Kerre McIvor: Student loans defaulters are thieves

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Sep 2020, 3:35PM
(Photo / Getty)

Kerre McIvor: Student loans defaulters are thieves

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Sep 2020, 3:35PM

More than 5500 overseas based student loan borrowers have returned to NZ since April - nau mai, haere mai.  Welcome home. 

But now you're here, if - and this won't apply to all of you - but if you're one of the bludgers who have refused to pay back your student loan, time to cough up, kids.  The arrogance of particularly overseas based student loan defaulters is legendary.   I've been banging on about this for years. 

In 2010, overdue repayments from overseas students rose 111 per cent last year and despite being just more than 14 per cent of student borrowers, they make up 20 per cent of the total amount owing.

Government's been trying to get the money out of this particular group for years - in 2007, Michael Cullen and Peter Dunne announced a series of measures, including a three-year holiday on repayments and an amnesty for overseas students.

By making it easier for them to repay their student loans, we removed a disincentive for them to return to New Zealand when they were ready, said Dr Cullen, which was benevolent but ultimately futile.

A couple of years earlier, Trevor Mallard and Helen Clark announced an amnesty on penalties on overdue payments for any returning students who entered into repayment schedules - and that didn't work either.

Now Peter Dunne is back, quoting from the same script, promising to reduce penalties for overseas student loan borrowers.

But by using carrots rather than sticks, the incentive to stay in New Zealand and pay back the money owed to the taxpayer isn't terribly strong either.

Loan defaulters should be stopped at the border and made to pay back their loan or enter into a repayment schedule before they can leave.

Oh, and before I finish with the students, I do wish they'd stop their whining that people who enjoyed free tertiary education are depriving them of the same opportunity.

Yes, tertiary education used to be free. But there were nowhere near as many institutions as there are now, nowhere near as many spurious diplomas and degrees and nowhere near as many people accepted into university.

In 1980, 2224 graduated from the University of Auckland. By 2000 that had risen to 6000 people. So there's thousands more studying and they still get subsidies.

I can't understand why the IRD isn't taking a tougher approach. They know who these returning students are, but they say that they are just going to hold off now. We're going to wait four months.

We need the money. We needed it during the GFC, we need it now. This was a contract entered into by these so called bright people, and if they did not understand when they were putting their signatures to the papers that this was money they were borrowing they had to pay back to the taxpayer, they shouldn't have been in tertiary education at all. 

Most people do the right thing, they aren't the ones I'm talking to. I'm talking to these arrogant, snotty little toads who have consistently refused to honour an agreement they freely entered into. 

The vast majority of their education is subsidised by the taxpayer. They only have to pay a portion of it. They promised to pay it back, they've reneged on that promise, and I'm sick and tired of playing nice with them. They're thieves, pure and simple.