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Step Up Scholarships qualifications announced

Step Up Scholarships qualifications announced

Science and technology qualifications that will attract Step Up Scholarship funding for university students from middle and low income backgrounds have been announced today.

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Education Minister Trevor Mallard today announced the science and technology qualifications that will attract Step Up Scholarship funding for university students from middle and low income backgrounds.

"Step Up Scholarships aim to remove financial barriers to enable people to undertake high cost fields of study that are essential for New Zealand's economic, social and environmental development," Trevor Mallard said.

Step Up Scholarships are currently available for students who want to do degrees in animal and human health where there are workforce shortages and fewer people working who are from middle and low income backgrounds.

"From next year up to 175 scholarships will be available to students who want to study science and technology qualifications, with recipients contributing the first $2000 to their fees. The Step Up Scholarship from the government pays for the rest of the fees, usually about $2000.

"Labour is backing the New Zealand economy and investing in developing key areas of skills. We want to train more scientists to develop new technologies and higher value products through innovation in areas such as food technology, engineering, computer programming and biotechnology.

"To help do this we've identified a wide range of science and technology qualifications for which eligible students can receive Step Up funding (see www.studylink.govt.nz for the list of qualifications)."

"Supporting more students to study science and technology will enable New Zealand to produce the specialist skills the economy needs, in the broad quantities that are needed.

"Since the introduction of the scholarships in 2004, more than 400 students have been granted a Step Up Scholarship. This represents a $3 million government contribution to student support in addition to student allowances.

"An extra 200 new human and health award scholarships are expected to be awarded in 2006, with the final number dependent on how many existing and new students take part. This area remains a top priority for funding," Trevor Mallard said.

All Step Up Scholarship recipients are required to stay in New Zealand for up to four years after graduating.

Questions and answers are attached.

Step Up Scholarships - Questions and Answers?

Why did the government implement Step Up Scholarships?

The aim of the pilot scholarship scheme in 2004 was to increase participation of capable young people from middle and low-income backgrounds in the human and animal health workforce, where New Zealand has shortages. These qualifications cost more to attain so the scholarships help address the financial barriers for this group of students.

Who is eligible for the new Step Up Scholarships in science and technology?

Low-income students wanting to access these scholarships must be either in their final year of school or within one year of leaving. They must be studying the approved list of qualifications, available on www.studylink.govt.nz

A middle to low-income student is defined as one who is eligible for a student allowance based on the parental income test, so that a parent's income must be less than:

- $63,825.84 before tax if the student lives away from home to study; or

- $57,981.04 before tax if the student lives at home


What are the Step Up Scholarships for human and animal health students?

Human and animal health subjects are a high priority for New Zealand because they are skill areas with retention problems and labour shortages. They are also high-cost qualifications, where students from low-income backgrounds are under-represented. The approximate weighted average tuition fee for full-time students is $5,400 for human and animal health courses, and $4,000 for science and technology courses.

The criteria for these scholarships were changed in 2005 to improve the scheme and increase take-up rates.

The upper age limit is now 24 to encourage older students to contribute to human and animal health professions.

The student contribution to tuition fees was also lowered from $2000 to $1000 to provide greater financial assistance to students from middle to low-income backgrounds who are taking these expensive courses.

Why are students studying for science and technology qualifications exempt from the 2005 changes to the Step Up Scholarships?

Because we want to ensure that applicants in this category do not crowd out applicants for human and animal health fields, as these fields remain the primary focus for the scholarships.
The number of students in these qualifications is significantly higher than those in the fields of human and animal health.

How will the new Step Up Scholarships for science and technology be allocated if there is a large number of applications?

StudyLink will use such things as NCEA results and secondary school awards to rank scholarship applicants. Where further rationing or tie- breakers are required, StudyLink will give preference to:

- those facing additional 'non-tuition costs' (e.g. those associated with a student having to move to a new city/region in order to do the course);

- those who have selected higher cost courses; and

- those from a low-decile school.

Each of these criteria will be allocated a scale and a corresponding score, to enable a total score for an individual student to be calculated.

ENDS

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