Zero fees: Frank Spencer couldn’t have done a better job

Colour me surprised. Looks like one of the government’s flagship policies, the zero fees policy, is turning out to be a bit of disaster. RNZ reports.

Quote:Official figures show student numbers increased just 0.3 percent this year, which the organisation representing New Zealand’s universities says shows the zero fees policy is not working.End of quote.

Student numbers have increased just 0.3 percent. I can understand a zero-fees policy if it means more students. More students is good. More students means hopefully you get enough students who when they graduate end up benefiting the country and offsetting the cost of the zero fees scheme.

Except student numbers haven’t increased which means as taxpayers we’re just subsidising students who would have gone to uni anyway. Quote:

Quote:[…]Universities New Zealand chairperson Stuart McCutcheon said a single year without fees would have no impact on students’ decisions to enrol.

“Think about the student who would not have come to university without this policy, but would with the policy,” Professor McCutcheon said.

“That student has to be academically prepared for university and they have to be in the kind of financial situation where the thing that will turn them off is one year of fees. Not the opportunity cost of going to university, not the fees in second and third year and beyond, not being away from home.End of quote.

Pretty much.

Quote:[…]The policy would not have encouraged students from poor families to attend university, Prof McCutcheon said.

“If you’re trying to get students from disadvantaged communities into university, what you should do is focus on those students, at least in my view, not reduce the cost of attending university for students who come from relatively well-off parts of New Zealand,” he said.End of quote.

Just think about how much better it would have been if the money for zero-fees had instead been put into scholarships for young disadvantaged people who despite hardship showed potential and a willingness to work hard and study.?Quote.

Quote:[…]Tertiary institution managers have previously told RNZ the zero-fee policy was introduced after most students had applied for courses in 2018 and the scheme might have more impact on 2019 enrolments.End of quote.

So the jury isn’t quite out yet. But it’s looking very much like another ‘Coalition of Losers’ fail. Looks like I might just have to put another ‘must try harder’ on the government’s report card I’m afraid.