Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: Protesting too much: responses to Labour's new tertiary policy

85 Responses

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  • Stuart Coats, in reply to linger,

    I'm not always so bitter. Most mornings are rainbows and lollipops.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall,

    You've reason to feel bitter, but no government will ever issue a refund of the fees you or I paid.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Even though I'm unlikely to benefit from the First Three Years policy, I still look forward to the boosting of apprenticeships. In any case, I don't want NZ to devolve into an Idiocracy in the long run. Still, when education is reduced from a public good to a perishable good, divide-and-rule dogma will have left its mark.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5415 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats, in reply to Zach Bagnall,

    You're right and I don't expect a refund. Perhaps it could be that we could still get three years free so if I wanted to extend my education then I'd get that benefit.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to izogi,

    it definitely it feels like a shift.

    ...at this point in time NZ (and at a micro level PAS) needs a shift from the normal paradigm - this has been not working for some time - time to do things differently before we run out of it....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7885 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Stuart Coats,

    please allow me and my generation some bitterness for being caught at a time when tertiary education wasn’t free

    Can we maybe remember your generation could see this as a way forward for your kids and hopefully your grandchildren. Or at least the mortgage rates aren't the 24% my olds had to pay.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Someone stealing Labour's policy? Ha! Try hanging out with some Greenies for a while.

    Still, I guess it makes a nice change from Labour's appropriation of the right wing agenda over the last few decades.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Oh, I can see that it's a policy that is good for future generations and that, yes, interest rates were higher in the past. I'm not saying that my grumpiness has great justification. But I am saying that it is there and that Labour will need to deal with the wailing and moaning from people of my generation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    A little history
    The birth of student loans…

    In 1989, the Labour Government introduced university tuition fees for all students. At this stage, the average annual fee was only $129. In 1990, students suffered a steep (mountain-goat steep) 969% increase in their fees, which were bumped up to $1250 per year. The next year, National abolished the “flat rate fee” and allowed universities to set their own fees. The following year saw the birth of the student loan scheme. Unlike our current scheme, however, the initial loans weren’t interest-free.

    With the new millennia, a new Labour Government abolished the 7% interest on student loans, and capped tuition fee increase at 5% per year. By 2008, the collective student loan debt exceeded $10 billion, and the public began to stress.

    In 2010, National limited student loans to a maximum of seven years of study in one student’s lifetime. Last year, access to living allowances and course related costs was limited for part-time students, and for students over 55 years of age.

    There are also a raft of new hurdles being hurled at students this year from our beloved benefactors.
    A worth while read.

    Labour’s policy is, as far as I can see, part of their “Future of Work” package and the necessary retraining that will be needed, It is not an appeasement for the vote of lefty students as some would have it.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Most blogs are just pissing into the wind unless they have access to the best possible money and connections to amplify their views.

    Doesn't always work. Why would any rational advertiser buy space on Snout rather than here?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    your generation could see this as a way forward for your kids

    every generation needs its own hard luck story to impress young people with. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    I have confidence in the Greens to keep coming up with good policy faster than Labour can ever implement it. Good partnership prospects there.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Sacha,

    I have confidence in the Greens to keep coming up with good policy faster than Labour can ever implement it. Good partnership prospects there.

    HA! I see what you did there...

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Here's a sad story...

    Four former beneficiaries have had their self-esteem boosted after being helped into work.
    All four were on unemployment benefits and now work as millhands...
    ... Single-father Stephen Longshaw, 42, said he had been "between jobs" and had been on a benefit for about five years. "I was looking to get back into the workforce but I had the children," he said.

    About three years later...

    Solo father and mill worker Stephen Longshaw, 45, said the Featherston home he shares with his son, 17, and daughter, 15, was targeted about 11pm...
    ..."I came out to the sound of rocks being thrown on my roof. I told them to leave but they wouldn't go, and they were screaming abuse at my girl and blaming her for the deaths of those boys."...
    ...At noon yesterday a group of about 15 teens again appeared at his gate, he said, and were wearing gang colours and "threatening to run me out of town and kill my daughter".

    "But I've been here for more than a year now.

    "I have to stand my ground. I'm not running anywhere," he said.

    I really don't know what to say...

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Rob does data and strategic work. His main client is the Labour Party.

    To be fair, that sounds a little like "David Farrar does polling work. His main client is the National Party"

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2929 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Huh? How does it make it "wrong"? I'm not sure you're getting the part about this being, y'know, my website.

    Absolutely. It's that ol' debbil "entitlement" again

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2929 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I also get the impression that you’d welcome content from others, if their writing was constructive, insightful, and not nakedly partisan.

    Anything well-argued and authentic, basically.

    Hell, you've even had me in the Speaker slot! Twice, IIRC

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2929 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    that sounds a little like

    which is exactly how Farrar and the media outlets who host him describe the relationship. Conveniently leaves out the weekly in-person briefings with the PM and their daily phonecalls during the campaign period.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    One of the many problems with user-pays education is that it quickly removed the “public good” perception among students themselves:
    “I paid (and am still paying) for this, therefore it is mine.”
    That’s an attitudinal change that will take generations to reverse.

    Very much so. I'm currently doing post-grad and I find students are astonished at the idea that I'm not doing it entirely for vocational reasons. Indeed since I already had a well paid career, most are astonished that I'm doing it at all. The idea that education has value in itself is like a thing of the past. This head scratching is not limited to students either. Even the general population, and most ironically, quite a few people in the education profession, think I'm some kind of nutcase for willfully putting myself through the "horror" of postgraduate tertiary science education.

    Will it reverse? I don't know. A big driver of it that I see is demographic changes among students. Foreign students seem to be a much larger proportion than before and they tend to be doing it for vocational reasons, and their attitude of the complete valuelessness of anything non-vocational does rub off. I don't rate our chances of driving any kind of systemic change in attitudes of foreign students.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I was interested in what he had to say.

    Ditto to that. Rob's kicked off some very interesting stuff here. I would love to see him under his own masthead. The fact that this is NOT a partisan Labour website makes that all the better, because he gets robust disagreement from a number of established commentators here. If anything, this blog is mostly inhabited by people who tend towards the Greens, and so a tussle with a Labour strategist is excellent mix.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    However, with my (admittedly fortunate) backstory please allow me and my generation some bitterness for being caught at a time when tertiary education wasn’t free and, by the time we got our loans done and dusted, house prices started spiralling out of control. We didn’t have the “job for life” that our parents had, nor are we digital natives that get to fully participate in the new economy. At the moment it feels like life has passed us by and all we got to do was stand at the platform and wave at the people having fun on the train.

    This has also been my (mostly suppressed) reaction. I devoted much of my 20s to fighting what was happening to our tertiary education system, and the day that Labour announced the interest free loans policy was a great personal triumph - I helped drive a campaign that saved former, current, and future students hundreds of millions of dollars.

    I was able to pay off my student loan at the age of 37, but only thanks to an inheritance which knocked off about a third of it. Now at 40 I'm heading back to University and just today paid $3800 in fees for two fifths of a taught masters degree to upskill myself and shift my career. Hopefully once that is done I'll begin a PhD. Labour's policy won't help me at all because I already have a degree, despite having paid lots of fees to get it.

    In 2017 my son will (hopefully) enter University, and if Labour wins the next election, and if they implement this policy, he'll probably pick up one year free of fees in his final year.

    My generation was screwed. Bent over a barrel of user pays philosophy while my parent's generation benefited from lower taxes and invested them in tax free capital gains on rental property.

    And we're now seeing the children of parents who are still paying off their student loans after twenty years entering the tertiary system. They will graduate with debt, they won't receive the help that their parents would like to give - both while they study, and when they look ahead to buying a house.

    So I'll applaud Labour starting to turn that around - each painful, exclusive step. But I'll carry my bitterness with me for ever. It's what brought me to the front lines of this debate in the first place.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Re: The Raw Deal Generation. As a founding member myself (1990 was my first tertiary year) I get the bitterness, but I choose to direct it only towards those actually responsible, rather than downwards to my own children. I will never find it in myself to vote for Goff as Mayor, for instance. But, by and large, this bitterness is moving towards ancient history and the true remedy will be time - we are poised on the brink of being the demographic of power in this country, as the Baby Boomers retire and (I hate to say it) die. We can fix the injustice ourselves of the indebted generation...

    If we choose to. I can't say I'm entirely sympathetic to the large number of my compatriots who recklessly took on massive debt they never intended to pay back and never have. Our education was still mostly free, in the sense of being about 80% subsidized, and a lot of those loans were frittered away on non-educational shit. For example, one of my mates boasted that his student loan funded about $3000 worth of CDs. Others bought cars, overseas holidays, drumkits, and so on.

    Of course I don't forgive Lockwood Smith on that account. This is what happens when you allow unfettered access to debt to children.

    And for the most part, student loans get paid back. I paid my first one back in a few years (I've got a smaller one now, which will most likely get paid off in a few years again). Those that spiralled out of control are the minority. I don't know what could be done about them, but I suggest that treating them like any other unrecoverable debt makes sense - the holders could pass through bankruptcy, just like we do for bad business debts. Then the record is eventually cleaned, after a short period of minor institutional penury that is hardly unjustified. It is a big mistake to forget that a lender takes risk too - that is why they charge interest. Debts that can't be expunged by becoming unrecoverable are odious. We can and should simply treat the fraction of bad debts out there as outright losses against the investment made by the government into educating all the other people. In the long term, it was probably a good investment, if you take the fuxored view of the government being a business investing in the nation for profit.

    Of course a better view, which is looks like Labour is finally returning to, is that education is a right and a good, rather than simply a business. If we pass through a phase of both views concurrently, it would perhaps be a stepping stone back to a more equitable future, one with an actual vision of a time coming (if it isn't here already) in which human work for money is not how our social organization can continue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    My generation was screwed. Bent over a barrel of user pays philosophy while my parent’s generation benefited from lower taxes and invested them in tax free capital gains on rental property.

    Yeah, but we can wear that as our war scars. A shitload worse has happened to other generations and goes down (if they survived it) as their genuine contribution to a better world.

    We survived neoliberalism so our children wouldn't have to.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Or perhaps a better way of saying it is: If we truly want to see the end of the Me Me Me philosophy, we have to start with ourselves.

    Also, even with our war scars, I think young people are looking at a much harder time than we are economically. It's on us to work out how to fix that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I appreciate PA has a political leaning and I’m not going to presume to tell Russell and others what to do, but I was also feeling a few similar concerns before Richard brought them up. Having occasional guest posts from an insider is interesting, but routinely letting the Labour Party express itself about how awesome and competent its leader is, or how superfantabulously brilliant its new policy is, and so on, makes PA feel much more like an outlet that’s prioritising political expression – sometimes spin – of the Labour Party insiders, instead of prioritising critique and discussion from outside.

    I have also found this weird. The insights into political party strategy and polling has been an interesting read.

    The party political broadcasts have felt like they haven't belonged here.

    But it's Russell's house, I've learnt to pick and choose what I read as my time gets smaller :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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