Many New Zealand students start their working lives with huge debt burdens. It impacts their ability to start families, buy a house, and to save for retirement. It detrimentally affects mental health and life choices. New Zealand students do not compete on a level playing field with students from other countries who have their tertiary education paid for by their governments. A recent article in the Huffington Post decries the high level of US student loan debt but the average New Zealand student loan debtor owes more:
Norway, Finland, Germany, and Denmark offer free higher education for all. France charges tuition, but it is almost free. The former Communist nations of Russia and the Czech Republic do the same. Beyond Europe, developing nations such as Argentina and Brazil provide free higher education. More than 300,000 Chinese students are attending university in America, and 40% of them are pursuing graduate studies. In China, however, the cost of college education is about $1,000 a year, which most families can afford. More than 160,000 students from India are in the U.S., and about 85% of them are pursuing either graduate studies or practical training. But in India, tuition fees are affordable if a student is admitted to university through a government selection process.
Better cost choices and more study options can only benefit tomorrow's students.