Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce had barely opened the portfolio passed to him at the end of January before he floated a significant change. He proposes to make student loans conditional on the student’s success. Living allowances available to students on age, income and residential criteria are not available to those who failed more than half their course the previous year. But loans are subject to no such test. From next year they could be.
And should be. The loan scheme attracts loud criticism from students’ associations because unlike grants and allowances, loans must be paid back. They call the debt a burden when it is, in fact, a considerable benefit from the taxpayer. The loans carry no interest during the borrower’s years of full-time study and repayments are not required until the recipient is earning an income.
And now the loans carry no interest, ever.
Since National promised at the last election to keep the loans interest-free, he needs to find another way to rein in their cost. Making them conditional on pass rates is an obvious and reasonable step. …
Higher education is expensive for the country and it would be reasonable to restrict it to school leavers who can pass an entrance test.
Mr Joyce should look beyond loan conditions and consider entry restrictions as he searches for the savings that all ministers are expected to produce from their portfolios for this year’s telling Budget.
I would also get rid of the stupid fees maxima policy.
The messy dispute now taking place between opponents of whaling is about tactics, not aims. That is what the critics of New Zealand’s willingness to explore a diplomatic solution that allows for some limited commercial whaling are refusing to acknowledge.
Labour foreign affairs spokesman Chris Carter – whose own government had no success in nine years stopping the Japanese – lambasted the Government yesterday as “an active advocate for the resumption of commercial whaling” adding it “simply doesn’t care about marine mammal conservation”. That owes more to rhetoric than realism, and fails to acknowledge the need for practicality as well as principles.
I suspect some opponents of whaling would be horrified if it stopped, as they would then have one less thing to protest about.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has been suitably cautious over any arrangement. He is quite clear that the Government’s aim is to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean. He told Radio New Zealand those seeking a diplomatic solution had no mandate to do any deal, but were to see if they could come up with a solution “that the New Zealand Government and then the New Zealand people can consider”.
The Government is right to be cautious, but it is also right to allow Sir Geoffrey to explore all options.
In any negotiation, there has to be concessions from both sides. Otherwise there is nothing to negotiate.