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Student support improves every year under Labour

25 January 2008

Student support improves every year under Labour – and more to come

Each year under Labour-led governments student support has strengthened, Tertiary Education Minister, Pete Hodgson said today.

He made his remarks to a NZUSA conference in Wellington where they released their 3 yearly report on students’ financial situation.

“For the last eight years Labour-led governments have taken significant steps to improve the affordability of tertiary education. Conversely during the 1990s, under a National party regime, things worsened each year. So I want to gently challenge you to do some maths and history on student support, and reiterate that each year Labour has paid attention to improving an area of student concern, and will continue to do so,” said Pete Hodgson.

Improvements this government has made to the affordability of tertiary education started in November 1999 with the reduction of dentistry fees from $20,000 to $10,000 a year, and have gone on to address other issues facing students, including:

- Removing interest while studying in 2000
- Controlled fee rises
- Removing interest for those who have finished their studies
- Introducing an automatic increase for how much a student can earn, without affecting their allowance
- Increases in the threshold of parental incomes for allowances.

“Lifting the thresholds means that now just over half of all eligible* students receive a student allowance, in full or in part. It is important to recognise that, for example, international students, those on a Domestic Purposes Benefit or students who are only doing one paper are not eligible for an allowance and therefore should not be included in the total numbers eligible to receive allowances.

“Just as we have been lifting the allowance thresholds, we will now address concerns around student living costs.”

* Eligibility Criteria attached

Eligibility criteria for student allowances:

a. Undertaking an approved qualification – not all qualifications are approved for allowances purposes.

b. Studying full time – allowances are restricted to those studying on a full-time basis for a period of 12 weeks or more.

c. Age – except in a few special circumstances, recipients must be at least 16 years of age or more.

d. Citizenship/residency – allowances are restricted to New Zealand citizens or New Zealand permanent residents.

e. Duration of residency – permanent residents must have resided in New Zealand for a period of two years to qualify for allowances.

f. Academic eligibility – to maintain eligibility for allowances, a student must pass more than half his/her course load while supported by allowances.

g. 200 week lifetime entitlement – people may hold allowances for a maximum of 200 weeks in their lifetime.

h. Beneficiary status – a person may not receive a student allowance while concurrently receiving a benefit – such as a Domestic Purposes Benefit, a widows benefit or invalids benefit.

ENDS

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