No guarantee post-grad allowances will happen this term

Chris Hipkins, Education Minister.
Chris Hipkins, Education Minister. Photo credit: Anna Bracewell-Worrall/Newshub.

The Government is dulling expectations on post-graduate student allowances, which the Greens, New Zealand First and Labour have all spent years promising to reinstate.

Labour has been promising to reinstate the allowances since they were scrapped by the National Government in 2013.

But when Newshub asked whether the Government would reinstate the allowances this term, Education Minister Chris Hipkins was non-committal.

"It's not part of the coalition agreement," Mr Hipkins said.

He said the policy will be considered in future Budget rounds.

"It's not difficult to decipher what [Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First's] collective priorities are in education, but that doesn't mean we can automatically deliver everything all at once.

"We've also got an agreement around the financial constraints that we have. We are not going out and doing a huge big spending spree."

President of the New Zealand University Students Association (NZUSA) Jonathan Gee told Newshub students would naturally be disappointed if the allowances weren't reinstated this term.

"We do hope the Government will commit to its object of making education more accessible," Mr Gee said.

Reinstating the allowance "would make a world of difference" to students, he said.

When the previous Government scrapped the policy, it said it would save $33 million over four years. On those numbers, the policy would cost $8.25 million a year to reinstate - a whisker more than the cost of tax cuts to the racing industry that were introduced in Budget 2018.

There's also a big question mark over when the Government will fulfil a second adult education promise - reinstating funding for night classes.

"We are going to be looking as quite a high priority at what we can provide in terms of adult learning opportunities through schools, through polytechnics, through other providers," Mr Hipkins said.

"What the previous Government described as hobby courses actually for some people are essential life skills, [and] for some people they form a really important bridge into more formalised learning."


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