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Penny Simmonds, the MP for Invercargill and National’s tertiary spokeswoman, this week criticised the Government’s first year fees-free policy as a waste of money.
"It simply encouraged more wealthy young people to have a ‘social’ year away from home at a university with little intention of actually completing a qualification," she told The New Zealand Herald.
"It is scandalous in a time of unprecedented debt in New Zealand such a wasteful and untargeted scheme should be allowed to continue."
The Tertiary Education Commission paid $254million for fees-free enrolments in 2019.
It followed data from the Tertiary Education Commission which showed an increasing rate of failure or withdrawal from students who stayed in tertiary education after their first fees-free year.
Before her election last year, Ms Simmonds was the chief executive of Invercargill’s Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).
During her tenure she helped implement SIT’s zero fees scheme, funded by businesses, community organisations and councils.
Yesterday she said other institutions or communities keen on fees-free models should take a similar route, rather than relying on government funding.
"Government’s put a whole lot of funding into something that hasn’t really made a difference," she said.
SIT’s success was because it was an economic development initiative that was not being done elsewhere in the country, she said.
"It was for quite a different reason that what the national fees-free system has been put in for."
— Additional reportingThe New Zealand Herald