John Key talks free tertiary education

OD: “Finally on education, in your first State of the Nation speech you spoke about the opportunity you had for a good education. Kids today end up with an average student debt of $28,000 to get the same education as you did. Any plans to go back to tertiary education, free tertiary education?”

JK: “I don’t know if we’d go back free…” (continued below)

"Let's Be Frank" with Oliver Driver, ALT TV, 6 March, 2008,  1.06 - 5.29 
 

OD: “Why not?”

JK: “Um, sheer cost of it I guess. It’s about…”

OD: “$350 million a year.”

JK: “Yeah. I guess what would you do with the $9 billion of student loans.”

OD: (partly unaudible, possibly ‘scrap em’)

JK: “there’s equity issues..”

OD: “C’mon lets look at you, here you are, the perfect example of a man who was born into a state house, made good, got his education, was able to go to university because it was free.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “Ya know, got to the place where you are.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “And now, you might be our prime minister.”

JK: “Yeah.”

OD: “And yet the next generation of John Keys’ have to pay $28,000 in student loans, if they can get a student loan in the first place.”

JK: “Yeah. Look there’s a number of different parts of that right. Firstly, probably, that tertiary education is widened out substantially to where it was. So a lot of those students, I mean the loans aren’t necessarily um related to, ya know tertiary qualifications, they’re actually around – well they are tertiary but not university per se, they might be a whole lot of other sort of areas.”

OD: “Sure, but it is estimated around $350 million is all we would need to provide free tertiary education.”

JK: “Yeah. Well {int}”

OD: “Now surely with the massive surpluses you keep going on about and the huge desire we have for ‘tax cuts’, we can afford these ‘tax cuts’ because of these huge surpluses. You could give every kid in this country back to having free tertiary education.”

JK: “I guess what I want to say to you is look, I mean we are looking at things like student allowances and all those sort of things. We made it clear we’re going to keep loans at zero percent, and we’ve made it clear, if you repay early , and some will, they’ll get a 10% discount on that.”

OD: “But you didn’t have to do it.”

JK: “I know.”

OD: “And look at where you are?”

JK: “Yeah but the issue..”

OD: “And you’re worried about the brain drain, you’re worried about upskilling our people, and you’re worried about all these sorts of things and yet, that, seems to me one of the most basic things you could do.”

JK: “And there are some areas where we could do that right and we’ve argued that we want to ‘bond’ doctors or might want to certain things with teachers, and write off their student loans, which is the virtually the same thing. I mean wholesale could we do it I dunno, we could look at it. I mean one thing I could say to you is, and this is what I say to young people when I go out to all of the schools all the time – if you’ve got a chance, go to university don’t worry about the student loan, that is the least of your problems but do two things, finish the degree…”

OD: “It’s not the least of their problems once they graduate, I know them.”

JK: “Yeah”

OD: “They’re walking around with $28,000, $40,000, $60,000 dollar debts around their necks, while you were in your first year of work, earning your first amount of cash, they’re hard slog paying back their debt.”

JK: “Yeah”

OD: “To be an educated part of society.”

JK: “Yeah. I mean yeah, you’ve got to look at it and say, “hey what’s driving those costs”, so what is your average course fee at university? About $4000 dollars are year? That sort of number? Probably. Um, I haven’t looked recently, but I guess it’s that sort of number. So, so a lot of what is driving that debt is because they are living away from home right? Now, so, had I been at university and lived away from home – I mean I know I had the luxury of being able to live at home, and I was in Christchurch, and I could go to Canterbury – but the bottom line is, I would have racked up debt then too. I mean, even back in my day, it was only the fees that were paid. So.”

OD: “So do that.”

JK: “Yeah, well that’s a possibility I suppose. I’m just saying, I understand where you are coming from and I’m not disagreeing with you. We want people to go and we don’t want people racked down with debt; and one of the reasons I didn’t like zero percent loans, and I was open about it in the campaign in 2005, was I was really worried people would take down more debt, and that actually even shows, they have, and for longer.”

OD: “But don’t you think part of the reason people are fleeing to Australia is to escape them?”

JK: “Partly because {int} well partly, {int} partly what the problem is I think, is they get this debt and while they’re at university it doesn’t seem that much, they say “ok, I owe $30,000 grand, well I’m gonna start working, I’ll pay it off”. As soon as they come out, there’s lots of other expenses that they hadn’t thought about – they want to move out, whatever, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever it might be – move in, and the problem is that debt hangs around, at which point their income is higher – then they go…”

OD: “Hang on just two minutes ago you said to me you encourage kids to not worry about the debt, to go to university, the debt won’t matter, and now you’re out here telling me that debt builds up, and it’s a whole lot more expensive, and they have to run to Australia.”

JK: “No. I’ll tell you why I think it shouldn’t matter if they get debt, and the answer to that is, getting the qualification, all the academic evidence shows you, your tertiary qualified, you complete your degree, your average income earning stream is much higher. So it’s what I say to you, what I say to young people is, get the qualification, and make sure you go there, make sure you complete it.”

OD: “I’m just saying I think you should think about that. You want people to not leave for Australia. You want increase our national average income. Surely free tertiary education is a way to achieve both of those things. In some part. ”

(Please report any transcribing errors below, thank you)

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2 responses

  1. So not only did he live at home while studying, it was a state home.

    Good on ya John.

    Like

    1. sleepdepriveddiva | Reply

      Exactly. A life home that meant a great deal to his mother, who could raise her children without fear of been made homeless.

      I do believe his mother moved into her own unit at some stage, just before or during his university studies. Either way Key had the benefit of the state welfare afforded his mother, and then himself in free tertiary education.

      Like

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