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In-flight aviation student numbers to be capped

2 October 2003 Media Statement

In-flight aviation student numbers to be capped

Limits are to be put on the number of government-funded in-flight aviation training places from next year while the Tertiary Education Commission determines the number of places it will fund in the longer term and whether aviation student access to Student Loan Scheme should be retained, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

The Commission has been reviewing funding for aviation courses and qualifications comprising an in-flight training component because of concern about the large debt some students have incurred through the Student Loan Scheme, acerbated by the steep growth in aviation student numbers. The Ministry of Social Development recently compiled figures for 2002 that reveal that helicopter students account for all the top 10 loan drawdowns in that year, with one exceptional drawing of $136,497 in a single year. Trainee numbers are currently uncapped and it is expected that nearly 1,000 training places will funded this year.

Steve Maharey said the number of government-funded full-time aviation students will be limited to 775 in 2004.

“Next year all publicly funded aviation training providers will receive a capped amount of funding for their existing students, plus some funding for new students based on enrolments between 2001 and 2003.

“The aviation training funding cap is only for aviation courses and qualifications comprising an in-flight training component. There are currently the equivalent of 425 full-time students undertaking courses inclusive of in-flight training who will not have completed their qualification by the end of the 2003, and they will receive priority-funding arrangements in 2004. The remaining places will be available for new enrolments.

“The reduction in the total number of aviation students to receive funding next year reflects concern about the rapidly growing number of students being trained in what are very high cost courses. The cap for 2004 has been set following discussion with aviation industry groups and aviation training providers.

“Changes are also being made to the funding for compressed courses to prevent aviation students have run up excessively large student loans in a single academic year.

“Most tuition fees currently charged for most aviation courses are above the new fee and course costs maxima announced in August. As with all other courses in this situation, aviation fees that are above the maxima will be able to remain at 2003 levels but not increase.

“These interim measures for 2004 have been put in place while longer-term funding arrangements are determined. The Tertiary Education Commission, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development, together with the aviation industry, will work on a long-term public investment strategy for aviation training, including a realistic estimation of the aviation industry’s demand for helicopter and aeroplane pilots. The Aviation Industry Association is now working with its members to construct a model that will help determine the future needs of the industry. This review will be completed by the end of the year.

“Aviation providers will be obliged to tell prospective students wanting to being study next year that there is no guarantee they will continue to be able to access the Student Loan Scheme in 2005 and beyond or have a guaranteed government-funded place. The government intends giving serious consideration to whether the student loan scheme is the appropriate system for funding the practical component of pilot training for both private and airline licences,” Steve Maharey said.

Information about the changes to funding for in-flight aviation training has been sent to training providers and industry stakeholder groups today.

ENDS

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