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UK grads who move overseas without repaying student loans should be arrested, according to expert


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Education expert Sam Cannicott is suggesting that graduates who move overseas and neglect to repay their student loans after their studies, should be arrested.

Cannicott, who works for Statistics New Zealand, got this idea from the Oceanic country’s “no nonsense approach” in collecting student loan repayment.

He’s authored an entire report on how the UK could learn from New Zealand’s higher education sector, pointing out the “timidity of the steps taken in the UK” when it comes to dealing with this particular issue.

“Former students who fail to make repayments face arrest at the New Zealand border, which is proving to be a strong deterrent.”

 The former Regent’s University London employee, also explains how “breaking the link” between income and loan repayments for grads who go overseas, like New Zealand has done, “removes bureaucratic barriers” that make it harder to hunt down repayment.

“Brexit presents an opportunity for the UK to learn from New Zealand because there is less need to ensure the repayment terms of EU students are the same as those for domestic students.” Cannicott says.

Coincidentally, the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) has just published a major comparative report, “Higher4 Education in New Zealand: What might the UK learn”, on the same topic as Cannicott’s comments.

The study claims that with New Zealand’s consistently good performance in international league tables, British universities in this post-Brexit era could stand to take notes on their methods. It also points out that New Zealand’s total student loan debt is only 6.8 billion, while the UK’s sits at around 70 billion.

Yes, it is true that New Zealand’s higher education sector is substantially smaller than the UK’s, but what the study suggests is that the UK follow their example and provide a “red carpet” to international students while simultaneously making an effort to protect quality while easing up on the student number controls. 

Director of Hepi, Nick Hillman, also supports New Zealand’s harsh actions against people who avoid paying their loans saying:

 “Tax evasion and benefit fraud rip taxpayers off. Defaulting on your student loan could be regarded as just as bad. Yet it is fairly common among both Brits and EU citizens who study in the UK before working abroad. Whitehall has never gripped this problem fully, but New Zealand’s experience suggests strong enforcement action works.”

The Hepi report came after the social mobility charity, Sutton Trust revealed their own study, finding England to have the highest level of debt per graduate than any other country in the English speaking world. Meanwhile, New Zealand graduates leave with just £23,300 of debt, the lowest of any other Anglophone nation.

England grads are at almost £45,000, in case you were wondering.

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