Debt payoff scheme encourages student drinking

Posted By TEU on Apr 16, 2015 |

Health watchdogs are criticising a controversial loyalty card that recipients can use to pay off a portion of their student loan.

The Feejoa card enables participants get up to 5 percent of the amount they spend at participating businesses off their student loans. The problem is that eight of the nine business signed up are pubs, and the more students or graduates drink, the more the card pays off their loan.

Community Alcohol and Drug Services regional manager Robert Steenhuisen told the New Zealand Herald the card was “an incentive to consume more”, which went against public health initiatives aiming for moderate drinking.

And Alcohol Healthwatch’s Rebecca Williams told TV3 the scheme is an encouragement to drink for a segment of society already at threat from alcohol.

“[Young people] have the highest prevalence of heavy drinking in our population, and we’re encouraging them to drink more just so they can get some kind of outcome or reward on their student loan.”

TEU national president Sandra Grey said the underlying problem is that education has become commercialised.

“The cost of education should be one that communities meet publicly so everyone gets the opportunity to learn new skills and contribute back to their community.

Instead we have put that cost directly on students. And where there is debt there are always businesses trying to make a dollar off those who owe money.

It was inevitable that someone would find a way to turn student debt into a business opportunity.”

Thanks to Sarah-Jane at Flickr for the photo –[email protected]/4468911841/

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