Students have been sleepwalking into university, and huge debt, for years – but it's time they snapped out of it. They should be using the opportunity provided by the taxpayers' largesse to ensure they leave university with as little debt as possible, with a qualification that's actually useful – and that requires careful planning.
The lure of one year free tertiary education will pull in students who might not otherwise have studied. Some of the study options are not a good choice. In addition, if those students end up with an unmanageable debt from studying beyond the free first year, or are forced to drop out because they cannot afford to study beyond one year, they will probably be worse off. If the free year leads to a good financial return in terms of your future career, and you manage your debt carefully, then you could be better off.
Ms McQueen believes that all tertiary students should have a part time job so that their borrowings are kept as low as possible. We agree with the idea that students should do all things possible to keep debt as low as possible, but if having a part time job interferes with your study achievements and progress then we don't agree that this is the best option. Being in debt for a partial degree, because work pressure caused you to drop out, is a worst case scenario for most people. Other options for keeping debt down are to live at home while studying (if at all possible), applying for scholarships, working and saving before studying, or embarking on an accelerated repayment plan as soon as you are working after you graduate.