Thursday 19 December 2019


It isn't like they weren't warned that this kind of thing could happen. 

Here's John Gerritsen:
Less than a third of the tertiary students in the zero-fee scheme last year came from decile 1 to 5 schools, Tertiary Education Commission figures show.

Of the 42,227 students in the scheme in 2018, just 12,191 students - or 29 percent - came from schools in deciles 1-5.

Most of the low-decile group, 5052, were enrolled in a university and 4161 went to an institute of technology or polytechnic.

Schools in deciles 9 and 10 accounted for 26 percent of the students in the zero-fee scheme last year.
Fees were never the big barrier to tertiary participation. Not when the government backs heavily subsidised student loans and collects repayments through an income-contingent scheme. The barrier instead is preparation for tertiary study. Instead of wasting billions on further transfers to those likely to wind up among the well-off through no-fee study, Labour could have decided to boost funding at secondary and primary school - figure out what helps in smoothing the path through to tertiary completion. They could have coupled that with means-tested funding in those cases where fees might have been a barrier.

This is, again, one of those very frustrating spots where a lovely well-being rhetoric wraps itself around a vote-buying effort, with zero consideration given to policy assessment, either ex ante or ex post. If the government's action matched its rhetoric, it would have started out by looking for the barriers to tertiary participation and figuring out the most cost-effective ways of getting those out of the way. Failing that, it would have sunsetted the fees-free policy with any re-up depending on its passing evaluation.

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