The government’s new fees-free tertiary education policy will see taxpayers footing the bill for people studying golf and homeopathy, the National Party says.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed any New Zealander who has done less than half a year of full-time study will get a free full-time year of tertiary education from 2018.
About 80,000 people are expected to be eligible – including those graduating high school in 2017 – with 50,000 to train in polytechnics or industry courses and 30,000 at universities.
Mr Hipkins said the policy had already been budgeted for, along with the government’s $50-a-week increase to student allowances, at a cost of about $380 million.
But National’s tertiary education spokesman, Paul Goldsmith, called the scheme “expensive and untargeted” and said it would just see people studying “golf, homeopathy and skydiving” for free.
“They might decide later in life that it’s time to do a bit of training on the golf swing and this is something you’ll be able to get free,” he told reporters.
Mr Goldsmith said figures given to cabinet also showed very few additional people would be encouraged into study by the policy, and most who would take it up next year were already enrolled anyway.