More needed for learners, says TEU

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The Tertiary Education Union says more must be to support and educate learners amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

The government as part of its COVID-19 response yesterday announced a domestic tertiary student package.

TEU National Council representative Joshua James says these measures do not go far enough.

He says the government should look at making the student allowance universal to all students, at an increased rate.

“Students are facing financial hardship because they can’t supplement their allowances or loans with part time work.

“Like all New Zealanders they are often taking on more family and community responsibilities. And on top of this they are trying to adjust to changes in the mode of delivery of courses

He says it’s important to ensure that those in training don’t drop out for economic reasons.

James notes that "many of our members at the TEU who are under 35 years old are also students, and they need far more support than just the increased ability to get more debt."

"Students currently owe more than $16billion in student loans, and with job prospects shrinking in the post-COVID economy, burdening students with more debt will further undermine their long-term futures."

TEU national president Michael Gilchrist says members are pleased to see the government adjusting rules to ensure that students who can’t complete study because of COVID-19 won’t be penalised when it comes to the entitlement to student loans or Fees Free tertiary study.

“But the decision to continue support payments for students unable to study on-line for only 8 weeks is not enough, neither is it enough to have students borrowing another $1,000 for course related costs on a temporary basis.

“It is important to remember too that for apprentices and others doing on-job training the effects will be even more severe and longer lasting than for university students."

The TEU urges the Minister of Education to keep working closely with students and staff in the tertiary education to keep them engaged and develop a deeper response.

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