About 80,000 students are eligible for the first year of fees-free tertiary education and industry training under the Government's new scheme. The scheme is expected to bring in 2,000 additional students to enrol in tertiary education this year.
Sandra Grey, national president of the Tertiary Education Union, joins The AM Show to discuss the future of the scheme.
Ms Grey explains that polytechnic school budgets have been slashed over the years with the underfunding of tertiary education.
“We know our students are living in poverty,” she says. “We know that they are having to work 15-20 hours a week just to pay the rent.”
This just offers a whole lot of breathing room.
While some polytechnic schools might not have high enrolments today, she says that “we are going to need those people in the future.”
While announcing the policy details on Tuesday, Education Minister Chris Hipkins revealed the Government had budgeted up to $380 million for the current financial year to cover the fees-free policy - to increase student loans and allowances.
He expected 50,000 of those eligible for the scheme to pursue industry training, with the other 30,000 attending university.
Listen to the full interview with Sandra Grey above.
The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.