5 Dec 2017

Govt's tertiary plan: Who will be eligible?

6:23 am on 5 December 2017

The government is to release more details this morning about exactly who will be eligible for a year of free tertiary education.

Jacinda Ardern hit the campaign trail again at Auckland University.

Labour campaigned on the first year of tertiary education being free, but National says the devil is in the details which until today have not been provided. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

With the policy due to take effect in less than four weeks, National has accused the government of leaving students and tertiary institutions in the dark.

At her weekly press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the eligibility criteria would be released today.

She assured reporters it would not contain any surprises.

"There are certain quirks that you work through - around, for instance, how we apply this for vocational training versus apprenticeships ... but I wouldn't call them surprises."

She said she wasn't worried about the tight timeframe as students had been given a clear message: "enrol as you otherwise would".

However, she admitted some people may have held off due to the uncertainty about their eligibility.

"That's why it's good for us to get out that information to them, make sure it's accessible for them while they make that decision as well."

Ms Ardern insisted universities and polytechs had been kept in the loop.

"They've been engaged throughout this process. We've been having conversations all the way through around how this will work."

Labour's website states that the scheme will be open to everyone studying for the first time from January next year.

Over the weekend, the National Party said there were still too many unanswered questions including whether students would be disqualified if they had previously taken one paper part-time or completed a bridging or foundation course.

National's tertiary education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said the government needed to stump up with answers or put the whole thing off until they had done their job properly.

"The devil is in the detail, but the trouble is there is no detail and students are enrolling right now."

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