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Medical Students Criticise Tertiary Ed. Policy

2nd July 2002

Medical Students Criticise Tertiary Education Policy

The New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) is concerned that the Labour Party Tertiary Education Policy fails to directly target indebted and disillusioned medical students.

“There seems to be a recognition of the effects of medical student debt but a failure to directly address them,” said NZMSA president Cindy Towns. “Medical students face debts of over $60 000 and nearly two-thirds of us plan on leaving the country. Direct and immediate targeting of these students is required but not recognised in the new policy”.

“We are pleased that Labour is going to increase access to student allowances but we need to see a commitment to a universal student allowance. 60% of our members are ineligible at present, raising the threshold is a start but all students need to qualify,” said Ms Towns.

“Labour has patted themselves on the back for establishing fee maxima yet there is no guarantee that fees will come down,” said Ms Towns. “Medical Students at Auckland and Otago pay $10 000 per year in fees alone, with no commitment to reductions students will still be graduating $50 - $60 000 in debt”.

“We are deeply concerned that bonding is receiving attention as a possible doctor retention plan,” said Ms Towns. “Bonding schemes have the potential to disadvantage the careers of young doctors at a time when they are financially vulnerable,” said Ms Towns. “Government needs to redirect this policy to target all medical students”.

Targeting final year medical students by increasing the amount of the educational grant is a more direct, more efficient way of reducing a loan burden that is currently driving our young doctors off-shore,” said Ms Towns. “Immediate action is required, the Trainee Intern grant hasn’t been adjusted for inflation or fees in almost a decade, this is the place to start”.

For further information please contact:
Cindy Towns,
President, New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA)
Office: 03 479 7326 Cell: 027 2222417 Home: 03 479 298

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