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NZMA Calls On Universities Not To Raise Fees

6 May, 2001

The New Zealand Medical Association calls on the universities of Otago and Auckland not to increase medical students' tuition fees this year.

The Government is offering to increase funding to universities if they agree not to increase tuition fees. Large fee rises have been tipped otherwise.

"This is an offer too good to refuse. For the sake of New Zealand's future doctors, the universities should take up this offer," said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams.

"Medical students are already stretched to the limit. They pay pay fees of around $10,000 a year and their training lasts for six years. Already many of them are accumulating huge student debts, often the size of a mortgage, before they even start earning money."

"Huge debts encourage the brain drain of graduate doctors to Australia and other countries where they can earn more money. This does not make sense economically for New Zealand, because thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money has gone into their education,"

Recent surveys of medical students have revealed that only a minority are now committed to working in New Zealand long-term.

High fees also affect the type of students studying medicine. The financial burden makes it even more difficult for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who are vitally important as their communities tend to have the highest health needs.

"Ultimately, the cost of health care to New Zealanders is likely to increase long-term as doctors pay back their huge loans."

"We urge the universities to consider the wider issues and accept the Government's offer of increased funding by freezing fees," Dr Adams concluded.


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