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Lower medical fees are the best medicine

17 February 2006

Lower medical fees are the best medicine

The New Zealand University Students' Association (NZUSA) welcomed two pieces of news on medical fees today.

"Students are wrapped with the announcement by Dr Cullen that the University of Auckland will have to drop their fees to the fee maxima level," said Conor Roberts, Co-president of NZUSA.

"Medical students face significant fees, paying on average $11,000 per year and owing on average $65,000 when they graduate."

"New Zealand is short of doctors and high fees turn potential students away from a medical course of study or drive them overseas once they finish," said Mr Roberts.

The announcement from Dr Cullen comes on the back of the government's intention to review medical and dentistry fees. It is also hard on the heels of a study published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal by the New Zealand Medical Association stating that the Government needs to find ways to reduce fees for medical students as student debt is destroying New Zealand's medical workforce.

NZUSA welcomed the government's commitment today to review medical and dentistry fees.

"Increased public investment in public tertiary institutions must increase so fees can be brought down to support this vital group of students," said Joey Randall, Co-president of NZUSA.

"NZUSA believes that the problems with medical fees are endemic across the tertiary sector. Government funding per student is lower than it was a decade ago, and New Zealand's public investment in tertiary education is now lower than the average for other OECD countries as a proportion of GDP. The squeeze has been put on students and we see this in rising fees, year after year."

"There has got to be a better way, and that way is for the government to realise that it needs to front up and properly fund our public tertiary institutions if it wants education to be the engine that drives our country toward a knowledge society."

"Proper public funding of tertiary institutions is the best way to ensure that institutions can't justify keeping student fees at such ridiculously high levels" Mr Randall concluded.

ENDS

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