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UCOL concerned about limits on loans to older students

News Release
19 May 2011

UCOL concerned about limits on loans to older students

UCOL’s Deputy Chief Executive – Strategy, Clare Crawley, says UCOL regrets the Government’s move to restrict people’s access to student loans, based on age.

Today’s Budget includes cuts to eligibility for student loans for living costs to people aged over 55.

Ms Crawley says UCOL is committed to providing opportunities for mature learners, including people seeking to retrain after redundancy. “Mature students seeking to upskill or to acquire new, more marketable skills are capable of making a valuable and very useful contribution in the workforce, particularly in areas of skill shortage. People’s ability to continue a productive working life does not end when they reach their fifties,” she says.

Ms Crawley says three per cent of UCOL’s EFTS (Equivalent Full-time Students) is aged over 55. “Many of these people are studying part time or online and many are in employment and wanting to increase their value as employees by, for example, improving their computer skills.”

She says mature students often consider areas with skill shortages, before selecting a study programme. “For example, a significant number decide to retrain in Nursing where there is an increasing demand for graduates, particularly in the regions. We would like to see more mature people doing our Bachelor of Nursing programme; particularly if they will go on to contribute to the health workforce in our North Island communities.

Ms Crawley also notes that the number of people aged 65 in the workforce is increasing, which suggests that students over 55 will have more time to repay their loans.

She says UCOL, however, welcomes moves to increase the recovery rate for student loans, as “appropriate and sensible.”

She says UCOL will wait to see the detail before commenting on any signals in the Budget of a shift in priorities for tertiary education funding, including an increased focus on trades to cope with higher levels of demand during the rebuild of Christchurch.

ENDS



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