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Maharey To Invite Students In For Summer Stocktake

Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey is to meet with student representatives next week for a stocktale on students experiences over the summer period just ended.

Mr Maharey met with students prior to the summer break to discuss student support issues, increased funding for student job search and the improvements made to student loans and allowances processing. Mr Maharey said it was now time to sit down with student representatives to review how things had gone over the summer and to review any evidence students have of outstanding problems.

"Prior to Christmas the Government worked very cooperatively with students to make sure the 2000/01 summer went smoothly. The information that I have received suggests that our work last year resulted in a trouble-free summer and I want to talk to students about what additional feedback they have gathered on campus.

"Initiatives we took last year include:
„h working with students' associations to promote the availability and eligibility criteria for the Emergency Unemployment Benefit, which approximately 35% of students are automatically eligible for, and the exceptional circumstances hardship assistance which students can receive. Information I had to hand suggested some otherwise eligible students were not applying for assistance they would have otherwise received;
„h ensuring that students were informed of their full entitlements by DWI. I am not aware of a single case where a student in hardship and did not receive assistance. I would welcome information about any cases the students have not yet drawn to my attention so that we can quickly ensure this is remedied; and,
„h working closely with students and tertiary education institutions to ensure that the $6m package of improvements to the student loans and processing system resulted in a trouble-free enrolment period this year.

"The Government values the working relationship we have with students' associations. The meeting next week is an opportunity to audit the success of the changes we have made so far and to look forward to further improvements which will assist students next summer," Steve Maharey said.

Attached is a schedule of the tertiary education intiatives implemented by the Labour-Alliance Government.

Tertiary education initiatives

„h fees at all public tertiary education institutions and most private providers will be frozen in 2001
„h interest has been wiped on the loans of full time and other low-income students while they are studying
„h the headline interest rate that other borrowers are charged was frozen in 2000 and remains at 7% for 2001
„h 50% of loan repayments in excess of the inflation adjustment now go directly to reducing the principal sum borrowed
„h dental students have had their fees halved, a drop of more than $10,000 per year
„h loan access for student association fees restored
„h eligibility has been extended for the Training Incentive Allowance
„h $6 million was invested in the student loan administration system to ensure the problems encountered in 2000 were not repeated this year
„h an additional $3 million has been invested in Student Job Search to enable it to enhance the service it offers to students seeking summer employment
„h students' associations and the Department of Work and Income cooperated on an information campaign to inform students of financial assistance available over summer for students in hardship and the criteria for accessing the Emergency Unemployment Benefit / Community Wage Student
„h the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission released its second report last Wednesday on how the Government can develop a cooperative and collaborative framework for our tertiary education system

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