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National, WINZ To Blame For Student Loan Problems

The Minister of Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey, said he would not allow the previous Government or WINZ to escape accountability for problems with student loans processing which have emerged this week.

Mr. Maharey this afternoon summonsed WINZ and Ministry of Education officials to a round table meeting with students and tertiary institution representatives to identify what is going wrong with loans processing and how the problems can be fixed. The groups at the meeting agreed that the overall objective was for students to get their student loans approved so that they could enrol for studies this year. After the meeting Mr Maharey said he was appalled that National had failed to properly supervise the transfer of loans processing to WINZ which occurred on January 1.

"Solving the problems students are now facing is the most pressing issue for me at present. I'm very pleased that students and tertiary institutions are offering their goodwill and expertise to WINZ to fix the problems emerging as soon as possible.

"However Mr Sowry and Mr McCardle need to tell students why they failed to ensure that WINZ was properly able to cope with student loan applications. Coming on top of the disastrous allowances bungle last year I am shocked at how poorly the previous ministers managed the transfer of loans to WINZ.

"Today we fully canvassed what is causing the problems students are experiencing. I was encouraged that tertiary institutions have agreed to be more flexible with their enrolment processes and that the students have agreed to help us publicise off-peak calling times when currently few calls are being made.

"WINZ is also producing a crystal clear plain-English guide to the loans process for student associations and MPs offices. WINZ is hiring extra staff to cope with the peak enrolment period.

"Overall however all these problems would have been able to have been sorted out properly and professionally if the previous government had simply taken the advice we offered them last year. They needed to pilot WINZ processing of loans on a few campuses.

"My Associate Minister, Ruth Dyson, and I are doing all we can to fix this problem as a matter of urgency but there is no doubt that National's poor oversight of the transfer process has made this job much harder," Steve Maharey said.

ends

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