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NZ allocates $133m to help students continue their courses

Image: Stuartyeates [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Government package will cover additional personal costs caused by Covid-19 to keep students in education

New Zealand’s government has announced a $133 million tertiary education support package to help domestic students continue their courses during the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown.

All domestic students enrolled in full-time tertiary study will be able to access the financial support package this week. It applies to full-time domestic students at universities, polytechnics and private training colleges.

Education minister Chris Hipkins (pictured) said the Covid-19 pandemic was affecting the ability of NZ students to pay for and continue their studies.

“They are facing additional personal costs associated with study in a different way while having fewer opportunities to work to support their study,” he said in a government statement.

“The government wants to give certainty to students as soon as possible that they can continue to be engaged in their education and will be supported adequately until such time that tertiary education providers can put in place alternative ways of delivering teaching and learning.”

The measures include: temporarily increasing the student loan amount for course-related costs for full-time students from $1,000 to $2,000; continuing support payments for students unable to study online for up to eight weeks; and making changes to ensure that partial tuition refunds due to Covid-19 do not affect future eligibility for student loans.

Hipkins said that students who could not access their courses online would continue to receive student loan payments throughout the four-week lockdown period and for up to four weeks afterwards. 

“This package provides relief to students straight away while we adapt to the immediate challenges posed by our response to Covid-19.”

He said the government was working on a second package of changes to prepare NZ’s tertiary education system to meet a “significant growth” of retraining courses for several industries.

Hipkins also emphasised that mental health support services were available for students dealing with anxieties related to the pandemic.

“Students can access mental health support services through their providers. The way these services are delivered may have changed, for example interviews may now be online or by phone. Students should talk to their providers regarding how to access these services.”