Jug­gling uni work with MP du­ties

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - JAMIE STRANGE

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.

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