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Briefing paper: Robin Hood Reversed

Robin_Hood_Reversed_cover.pngFollowing on from Jacinda Ardern's announcement today of Labour's tertiary education policy offering 'free' university study for up to three years, we have released a briefing paper examining whether "zero fees" university really is what the left say it's cracked up to be.

We find that the implementation of a zero fees policy for tertiary education would reach into the pockets of the disadvantaged, to line the wallets of the future’s wealthy.

Contrary to claims that zero tertiary education fees help the poor, we found that similar policies overseas have led to job shortages in crucial areas, and poorer quality courses.

In Scotland, which introduced zero fees in the early 2000's, students from low socio-economic groups were the first to be shut out. This contradicts the political ideology of those who advocate for it, because the policy hampers social mobility, and actually increases barriers to reducing inequality.

The costs of such a policy are borne by low and middle-income earners, to help tomorrow's rich get a free ride."

Key findings: 

  • Taxpayers already cover 84 percent of the cost of obtaining a tertiary degree
  • The average household currently pays $2,456 in tax per year to fund tertiary education
  • Fully implemented, Labour's proposal would increase that cost by $852.57 per year.
  • Low and middle-income earners will pay more to subsidise tomorrow's rich
  • Likely effects of the policy, based on the experience in Scotland with its zero fees policy, include:
    • more job shortages in crucial skills-based areas
    • lower quality tertiary education
    • less access to education for students from disadvantaged or low socioeconomic backgrounds
    • less social mobility and entrenched income inequality. 

Download the PDF report from here. Hard copies are also available for members of the Taxpayers' Union, on request.

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