What’s going on with student loans?

I’ve described John Key as having all the moral fibre of a blancmange a couple of times (one, two), mostly because as far as I could tell, his unending pragmatism meant that he would do anything for votes. Hence the on-going beneficiary bashing and the cutting and cutting and cutting in the public sector, both of which have a minimal impact on the government’ bottom line. But attacking public servants and powerless beneficiaries always plays well among those who are convinced that all those lazy bludgers need is a good kick up the arse and why can’t the whole world be just like me. Votes votes votes, there to be taken.

And now he’s doing it again. Key has ruled out making any changes to interest free student loans, because:

it’s not politically sustainable to put interest back on student loans. It may not be great economics, but it’s great politics.

National’s chief spinmeister has tried to portray this as a policy that is locked-in, thanks to the previous Labour government, but that seems a rather thin excuse after three years in the Treasury benches. It’s just as plausible to describe the National party as being so eager to remain in power because it likes being in power, that it will pay any price, whether or not that price is affordable for New Zealand.

But there’s more to the student loans story.

Key told a Colliers International event in Auckland this morning that while National would rein in the student loan scheme “in a big way”

Couple that with on-going rhetoric from employers that New Zealand must train people so that they have the right skills for work (one, two, three) and the push from Minister of Tertiary Education Steven Joyce to publish graduate income information, and I am starting to see a plan for the government to defund some courses. Student loans are paid to students themselves, but if those loans are only available for people studying particular courses, then in effect, there will be no government support for some courses.

I wonder which courses are for the chop? I’m guessing that the government will rein in the student loans scheme by announcing that it will no longer fund courses in basket weaving and twilight golf. All its favorite punters who didn’t get where they are today by farting around at university doing stuck up degrees will grunt and chuckle about all those academic woofters having to do some real work now, and come the next election, they will clap themselves on the back and vote for Key because he’s a bloody good bloke who got rid of all that namby-pamby stuff. Meanwhile, under the cover of basket weaving and golf, other courses will be black listed too. BA in Sociology? What kind of a job are you going to get with that? Employers don’t want people who know about Weber and Durkheim. No more student loans for people studying sociology, then. And so it will go.

As the government reins in the student loans scheme, watch for changes in the courses for which students can get loans. It will tell you what this government’s priorities are.

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3 comments on “What’s going on with student loans?

  1. T. says:

    I don’t think they’ll ever go through with publishing the graduate incomes. It’d show up the massive salary holes in places like nursing.

  2. Denny says:

    T. You can get some of this information on the net in a very general form but not according to degrees eg average starting salaries for accountants, administration officers, sales, marketing …
    And starting salaries could show up some unexpected figures that work in Key’s favour. Starting salaries for nurses and teachers seem to be more than the average starting salaries for lawyers and accountants. Even though that changes fairly quickly, i imagine that Key is pretty confident that people will continue to study to be nurses (especially as people don’t go into these professions for the money blah, blah … )
    There aren’t too many graduate recruitment programmes for sociology graduates, yet ironically, having a “second” degree in sociology, philosophy, or any discipline that encourages thinking makes you more employable. Maybe that will make Key think twice about what is funded or not.

  3. Che Tibby says:

    it might be helpful to note that this exact information is already in the public domain http://tinyurl.com/7vfqcf8. specific limitations on the release of information about individual educational providers is put in place by stats nzl though, so you can’t actually target any specific provider.

    but, if the provider is willing to have the information released it’s an extremely easy thing to link income-post education and type of qualification. the results are also pretty logical. on average uni graduates make more in their first year that polytechnical grads, and graduates make more than qualification non-completers.

    you might also note that joyce actually *increased* funding for university places over other types of education a couple of years back. the suggestion is that the “targets” of low-value education talk are more likely to be qualifications from places like polytechs or wananga, especially those with low completion rates or poor graduate incomes.

    this leads me to think that your bog-standard BA cum LLB courses are probably nice and safe.

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