Labour has always stressed the free fees apply to polytechnics, other tertiary training institutes and industry training, not just universities. One issue, however, is that most university courses for first-year students will be far more expensive than many polytechnic and trade courses. These could well be part-time and limited (short courses costing, say, $500 compared to, say, $6000 for a full first-year university course). Therefore, the bulk of benefits go to university students, the vast majorityfrom better-off and educated backgrounds. Most of the savings in fees go to the middle-classes and wealthy – certainly not to the poor.
The vast bulk of the money is going to the most well off families.
Substantial support for fees is practical and beneficial. Universities, polytechnics and industry training need to be accessible. But, and this is reinforced by the numbers taking advantage of the policy, it would seem free fees are being picked up by students taking part in tertiary education anyway. This is what was predicted.
Surely, with so many deep-seated and widespread needs in our society, there are higher priorities. Surely, $1.5billion could be spend in a more worthwhile way. This is a transfer of taxes to help, largely, the relatively well off.
The most wasteful policy yet.