Juggling uni work with MP duties
As a Member of Parliament based in Hamilton, it is not unusual for me to be supporting various events at Claudelands Events Centre.
However, last month I found myself standing on stage for a completely different reason - I, alongside hundreds of my peers, was graduating from the University of Waikato.
This celebration marked the conclusion of my Master of Educational Leadership, a qualification I began via correspondence in 2015, two years before my election to parliament. Over the past few months I have juggled the workload of a new MPwith my post-graduate student requirements.
It has meant a number of long days, longer nights, and plenty to read on my flights to-and-from Wellington. Completing this qualification has only been possible due to the support of my wonderful family and my loving wife of 21 years, Angela.
I realise I’m not the only Kiwi who has juggled education with other responsibilities. Every morning throughout the country students are waking early and staying late at trade schools, on apprenticeships, and in polytechs and universities.
Many of these are mature students, often with children to provide for. They all recognise the genuine opportunities tertiary education can provide. The introduction this year of a year’s free tertiary education has meant that more students are able to get the skills, training and education they need to be workers in today’s modern economy.
I’ve talked to hundreds of new students who have been positively affected by this important policy.
It means these students will only have to worry about upcoming exams, and not about mounting debt.
We want new graduates to be investing in their own businesses, or first homes, rather swimming in debt from the moment they graduate.
I also acknowledge that others missed out on this opportunity. I have just finished paying off a $40,000 student loan.
However, we had to start this scheme at some point, and unfortunately were unable to backdate it.
This Government is committed to creating a high quality, fair, inclusive education system that produces excellent outcomes for all New Zealanders. I’ll be putting my degree to good use to ensure our Government continues to be a global leader in education.
-Jamie Strange is the Labour listMPin Hamilton.
Labour MP Jamie Strange with his wife Angela, at his graduation recently.