Student loans 'punish' the ambitious

Last updated 07:00 03/07/2014
student loan
BRAIN BUSINESS: Educated people are often the ambitious, we shouldn't ever punish anyone for that, Clark Williams says.

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With the upcoming elections it's time to talk about the state of our tertiary education. 

As a recent graduate I found myself in the same predicament as a large number of unemployed graduates. I was after a teaching job, which were plentiful when I left high school and started studying.

I am not at all bitter about the employment drought, and I do not regret university as that experience and learning has helped shape me, but my massive student loan means my education is now an anchor rather than a sail.

If New Zealand wants to keep its educated youth, we need to provide work. If we can't then we shouldn't be charging unreasonable interest rates to young Kiwis looking to go abroad for job satisfaction. In the year following university I laboured in central Otago and had the most unfulfilling Wellington office job that my qualifications would allow. 

I have now left New Zealand to teach in the Cook Islands, a job which is satisfying. As the Cook Islands is a protectorate I do not have to pay interest on my loan, but my wage is low and I will return to New Zealand when my contract ends as an unemployed 26-year-old with no home and a $60,000 student loan.

Students know what they get themselves into when they get these loans, but let's not make this a reason to justify a poor system of education funding. Education is the driving force of our future. It has taken a local world and changed it into a global network where the lines between countries and cultures are blurred beyond recognition. 

Why are we pushing the educated people of New Zealand into more debt, purely because they are a little more ambitious than what our country can offer? Kiwis will return to their home eventually so let them go out and learn more. Don't force them to go out and get into more debt.

Do we want our educated to be stuck lifeless in jobs that offer no satisfaction or do we want Kiwis to retain their happiness, love of adventure, and life?

Educated people are often the ambitious, we shouldn't ever punish anyone for that. 

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