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Sickening Report on Nurses’ Student Debt

Sickening Report on Nurses’ Student Debt

Financial relief for nurses must be a priority if New Zealanders are not to suffer because of skilled nursing shortages. The sickening impact of student loan debt on nurses was highlighted in a study released yesterday by the nurses union (NZNO) and NZUSA.

“Financial relief would make it more inviting to study what is basically a public good,” ATSA (Aotearoa Tertiary Student Association) President, Julie Pettett says.

“A great start would be lowering the fee maxima for nurses.” She says.

“Comprehensive nursing graduates have declined almost 20 percent over the last 6 years, surely this indicates that if we are not already in crisis over a lack of qualified nurses, we very soon will be.” Pettett says.

“Writing off a portion of a person’s student debt who chooses to work in New Zealand, following study, charging a flat rate tuition fee of $1500 and paying nurses a basic allowance would bring much needed financial relief to a beleaguered section of the New Zealand workforce.” She says.

Less than $30 million a year paid in tuition fees and allowances would leave nurses debt free. Currently the cost of recruitment is running at $100 million a year, says Geoff Annals, CEO of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.

“ATSA supports current and future work that highlights the effects of student debt on the lives of nurses,” Pettett concluded. “We expect this government to rank nurses close to the top of the bonded scholarship arrangements announced in this year’s budget.”

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