Nueva Zelanda: Free tertiary study with allowance increase: recipe for a rort, warns National

Nueva Zelanda/Noviembre de 2017/Fuente: Stuff

Resumen: El estudio terciario gratuito y un nuevo aumento de la asignación estudiantil podrían crear un “incentivo perverso” para que las personas se inscriban sin intención de estudiar, advierte National.

Eso se debió a que con un aumento de $ 50 por semana anunciado recientemente a la asignación de estudiantes, la asignación ya no estaba vinculada al beneficio de búsqueda de empleo, superando en un 23 por ciento.

Pero el Gobierno dice que ha llevado a cabo el trabajo y confía en que cualquier riesgo de que eso suceda “estará en los márgenes” y desaparecerá rápidamente, con consecuencias para cualquiera que lo haya probado.

Free tertiary study and a new increase to the student allowance could create a “perverse incentive” for people to enrol with no intention of studying, warns National.

That was because with a recently-announced $50 per week increase to the student allowance, the allowance was no longer pegged to the jobseeker benefit – outstripping it by 23 per cent.

But the Government says it’s carried out the work and is confident that any risk of that occurring would “be at the margins” and weeded out quickly, with consequences for anyone who tried it.

National's tertiary education spokesman Paul Goldsmith says the Government has left it's free tertiary study policy open ...

GETTY IMAGES

National’s tertiary education spokesman Paul Goldsmith says the Government has left it’s free tertiary study policy open for exploitation if it’s not careful. It needs to justify how it will protect public funds from being rorted.

From January 1, 2018, student allowance base rates and the maximum amount students can borrow for living costs will rise by a net $50 a week.

Where the allowance rate reflected the living costs of two adults, the increase would be $100 net a week. The Accommodation Benefit was also scheduled to rise by $20 a week in 2018, to a maximum of $60 a week.

National says Labour’s planned boost to the student allowance makes it vulnerable to exploitation by people on the jobseeker’s benefit. They’re warning that decoupling the allowance from benefit levels creates an incentive for beneficiaries to sign-up for tertiary education, even if they have no intention to study. But the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations says this is incorrect, because comparing the student allowance to the jobseeker’s benefit doesn’t show the whole picture. National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith joins me in the Auckland studio.

 The moves were part of the Government’s 100-Day Plan.

National tertiary education spokesman Paul Goldsmith said the increase, combined with free tertiary study, could leave the door open for the policy to be exploited by some who would see easy cash.

“While all Kiwis would like to see unemployed New Zealanders engaging in genuine study, decoupling student allowances from benefit levels opens the system to abuse.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says students will not be to exploit the Government's free tertiary policy. If students ...

SIMON EDWARDS/FAIRFAX NZ

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says students will not be to exploit the Government’s free tertiary policy. If students don’t pass, they will be required to pay.

 “With all tertiary courses free from next year, what’s to stop any sensible beneficiary taking advantage and enrolling in study in order to pocket an extra $50 a week,” he said.

The $50 increase to the allowance, however, meant a person in this category would soon receive $262.45 – 23.5 per cent more than if they remained on the jobseeker benefit.

“Student allowances have previously been pegged to the jobseeker benefit so there wouldn’t be any perverse incentives for people to enrol in tertiary study even if they had no intention of studying,” said Goldsmith.

“But now that’s all changed, and the zero-fees policy will make it worse. It’s like having a new super jobseeker benefit with no strings attached.”

The Government had to explain the measures it would take to prevent that from happening.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said it was an issue the Government had been careful to do its homework on.

“We looked at all of the different mitigations in place to ensure that people don’t switch and we’re pretty confident we’ve got enough safeguards in place that any kind of behaviour like that would be at the absolute margins.

“And it would frankly be a very foolish person who did that, because they would lose any eligibility for future support if they did that, and those were under the rules introduced by the National Government actually.”

Hipkins said they were “reasonably sensible” rules, ensuring students passed enough of their courses to retain their study benefits. A pass rate of 50 per cent was required.

“So if someone sets out to basically rort the system, they’ll be clamped down on pretty quick and then they’ll lose their ability to access the system any further.”

Another rule that applied – also introduced by the National Government – was that tertiary providers could lose funding for “non-completions”.

“And I think that they would be very mindful of enrolling people who are not taking their education seriously,” said Hipkins.

“Because they’re not going to want to have that impacted upon their performance statistics.”

But if a “modest increase” in student support was what tipped people into furthering their education and coming off a jobseeker benefit, “that’s a good thing”, said Hipkins.

Labour’s pre-election costings, which were verified by BERL, put the cost of the policy at $340m per year, along with $270m per year for the boosts to student support.

It plans to release the up-to-date costing of the plan this coming week. Student debt has surpassed $15 billion in New Zealand.

 Fuente: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/99251281/free-tertiary-study-with-allowance-increase-recipe-for-a-rort-warns-national

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