Tertiary and Vocational

New Zealand First will implement upfront investment in post-secondary education. This policy will remove the financial burden of student loans, particularly on our young people and replace this with a payable skill debt to the country. The Up Front Investment Tertiary policy will reduce both the human and financial waste currently created by inadequate workforce planning and under resourced careers advice. 

Our post-secondary study suite of policies, which includes a universal student allowance, will remove current lurching from skill shortage crisis to individual profession oversupply. In a post-COVID New Zealand now more than ever we must ensure that workforce planning is done and directly linked to our education system.  Now is our opportunity to train our own for the skilled workforces needed before we look offshore.


  • Implement the Up Front Investment Tertiary Policy as quickly as possible so as to remove student debt from the next generation and to ensure that workforce planning is used to remove our dependence on the importation of skilled labour as a norm.
  • Move to introduce a universal living allowance which is not subject to parents means testing as a priority for all full-time students.
  • Immediately introduce a dollar-for-dollar debt write-off scheme so that graduates in identified areas of workforce demand may trade a year’s worth of debt for each year of paid full-time work in New Zealand in that area.
  • Work with the sector to reset the international student market so that when it is safe to restart this sector it is done safely and is rebuilt to provide quality education and experiences to these students but also provide high quality income for our nation.  International Education must not be used as a back door to immigration. 
  • Continue to support the resourcing of apprenticeships and on-job learning to develop a skilled workforce and address unemployment across all ages.
  • Work alongside the sector, including NZUSA, to establish a project to build capacity for enhancing student engagement so students have a say in how, what and why they learn. This would be based on the implementation of the Student Voice for Quality Enhancement report and by funding a long-term programme to build capacity for the student voice in the sector ($2m over 5 years).
  • While respecting institutional autonomy and diversity, require through the external review processes that institutions can demonstrate that they have independent, autonomous and well-resourced systems of student advocacy services for genuinely engaging, through student representatives, with students.
  • Work with NZUSA and the sector to establish an expert reference group with a view to implement two thousand ‘First in Family’ scholarships per year. These will create a step-change in educational aspiration by promoting fee-free education with wrap-around support from secondary, through transition and to completion for those who would be the first in their immediate family to achieve a degree. ($68m over first 3 years 2015 to 2017).
  • Review funding and attendance models that create barriers to achieving recognized NZQA qualifications through flexible individual training agreements and workplace internships. (see our Business Linked Internship Policy under Small Business)
  • Minimise the “opportunity costs” (administration and compliance) and financial barriers for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to employ apprentices and provide flexibility for provincial and rural New Zealand students.
  • Encourage strategic alliances between industry crown research institutes and tertiary institutions to increase the number of scholarships and government funded research grants available to graduates, universities and employers.
  • Re-establish Teachers Training Colleges to address the deficiencies in many Initial Teacher Training courses.