Jordan Carter has blogged his disappointment that Labour are not applying the same principles to tertiary education as they are to legal aid.
I can not resist the temptation to defend the Labour Government from Jordan’s criticism.
Jordan contrasts “It is based on the principle that access to justice ought not to depend on the ability to pay” with “The cost of participating in tertiary education is a significant investment for many individuals and their families”.
One has to look at why people access the justice system and why they undertake tertiary education.
The majority of people needing legal aid, would rather not be accessing the justice system. They are either defendants in criminal cases or having to get a protection order etc. I am comfortable with the notion that poor people charged with a crime should be able to have a lawyer represent them in court, and hence support legal aid (although there are areas which need changing).
Tertiary education is different. People choose to undertake tertiary education because they see benefit in doing so. Yes there is benefit to society also, and that is why the cost is split between the taxpayer and the student. I have issues with allowance eligibility and the exact split between taxpayer and student, but have no problem in saying that it is fair and reasonable that students pay some of the costs of tertiary study.
After all on average a graduate will earn over $500,000 more than a non graduate during their working life.