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Government Delivers For Students Over Summer

The Government's package of measures to support students over summer worked well last summer, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey met with university student leaders this morning take stock of the recent summer period which he said appeared to have gone well. The student loans and allowances processing system is working properly after two years of significant disruption under the National Government, student job placements remained high over the summer employment period and greater numbers of students not able to find work got the financial assistance from the Department of Work and Income (DWI).

"Feedback from electorate offices indicate that students had a good summer break, unmarred by the kind of problems that they had experienced the previous two years. MPs received very few complaints or requests for assistance this summer.

"In stark contrast to recent years, the summer of 2000/01 was a peaceful and stress-free one for students. The $6m package of improvements to the students loans and processing system which the Government announced following the Erenstrom review has fixed the systemic problems the new Government inherited.

"Students also seem much more aware that the Community Wage Student (soon to be renamed the emergency unemployment benefit) is still there if they really need it, even if they don't automatically qualify due to student allowance eligibility. 1,985 students accessed the Community Wage Student under special hardship provisions in 2000/01 – an 89% increase on the previous year.

"The number of ordinary recipients of the Community Wage Student, meanwhile, has declined, reflecting the buoyant student summer job market. The additional $3m over 4 years that the Government has committed to Student Job Search to assist it to find more work for students over the summer and to upgrade its technology is likely to have assisted with this. Over the period from October to January, Student Job Search found 24,481 job placements for students," Steve Maharey said.

Contact: Michael Gibbs, Press Secretary, (04) 471 9154 or (021) 270 9115,
e-mail: michael.gibbs@parliament.govt.nz. Attached is a schedule of the tertiary education intiatives implemented by the Labour-Alliance Government.

Tertiary education initiatives

* fees at all public tertiary education institutions and most private providers will be frozen in 2001
* interest has been wiped on the loans of full time and other low-income students while they are studying
* the headline interest rate that other borrowers are charged was frozen in 2000 and remains at 7% for 2001
* 50% of loan repayments in excess of the inflation adjustment now go directly to reducing the principal sum borrowed
* dental students have had their fees halved, a drop of more than $10,000 per year
* loan access for student association fees restored
* eligibility has been extended for the Training Incentive Allowance
* $6 million was invested in the student loan administration system to ensure the problems encountered in 2000 were not repeated this year
* 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
* 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
* 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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