17 Jul 2008

Govt asks for costs of universal student allowance

1:25 pm on 17 July 2008

The Government has confirmed it has asked officials to work out the cost of a universal student allowance.

However, Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson has played down suggestions that the Labour Party will take a promise for such an allowance into the election campaign.

Mr Hodgson says earlier this year, he asked officials to cost a universal student allowance in response to calls by students in the lead-up to the Budget.

He says Labour's policy remains one of moving progressively towards a universal allowance rather than directly to one.

The University Vice-Chancellors Committee says talking about introducing a universal allowance at a cost of $728 million is unhelpful. It says New Zealand is already spending well above the OECD average on student financial support.

Right-wing lobby group the Education Forum says putting money into student support, rather than into funding for tertiary institutions would do nothing to improve the performance of the sector.

The Union of Students Associations says it has lobbied for a universal allowance for the past 10 years.