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Students disappointed at loss of scholarships

Friday 29 May 2009

Students disappointed at loss of scholarships

The Government has slashed $98 million dollars worth of scholarships in its recent budget announcement, which has not sat well with students.

“Students are dismayed at the scholarship cut. The Government has essentially resurrected financial barriers to tertiary education” said Ms Sophia Blair, Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.

The New Zealand Medical Students’ Association has also expressed concern about the loss. “With fewer scholarships available to students, we are only going to see higher levels of student debt. Debt has consistently been shown to have an adverse impact on the New Zealand medical workforce,” said William Perry, President of the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association.

The Step Up Scholarship is one of many scholarships that have been disestablished. It was introduced by the Labour Government in 2004 primarily to provide equity of access for lower income entrants to tertiary education courses.

“These scholarships were an important part of addressing financial barriers to medical education. We are now worried that prospective medical students, particularly those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, will be deterred from applying for medicine out of concern over the large debt accrued by graduation,” said Mr Perry.

“It is important that every New Zealander who wants to undertake medical training and reaches admission requirements to do so can. Equity is important, and the Step Up Scholarships helped to closer attain this.”

The Step Up Scholarship also encouraged students to stay and work in New Zealand. “We are currently experiencing a medical workforce crisis, and need to encourage medical students and junior doctors to stay in New Zealand. They are more likely to do this with low student debt and Government support, such as the Step Up Scholarship,” said Mr Perry.

The Government has recently acknowledged the reality of the workforce crisis and importance of junior doctor retention. Mr Perry said, however, that the Government has seemingly overlooked that these scholarships were an important piece of the puzzle.


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