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September 14, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Questions raised over scholarship usage

Shoulda gone with course related costs, man.

A lack of accountability in the Victoria University of Wellington Scholarships system has been highlighted by concerned students, who say they know of people abusing the scheme and wasting money designed to aid in financing their studies.

A concerned student contacted Salient with alarming evidence that a Victoria University student-specific scholarship recipient had used his financial assistance to purchase a motorbike.

“Now as you can imagine tragedy was to strike and the motorbike and rider were involved in a crash and the bike was written off completely,” said the student, who did not want to be named, preferring the alias ‘Man About Town’.

“To me this is a waste of money that could have been used for a student needing money for legitimate study purposes,” they said.

This student’s outrage has been echoed by others, many of whom are struggling to find a job to subsidise their study in the current economic climate.

Scholarships manager Philippa Hay disagrees that such abuse is standard practice, saying the selection criteria is rigorous and often the students do not even get to see the money.

“It is used directly towards essential study costs such as fees and Halls of Residence,” she said.

However, there are some cases where a student is awarded funding directly, and they remain unaccountable for where this gets spent.

“Other scholarships do not require students to account for what they purchase with their scholarship money, as the scholarship is in the form of a stipend for general living expenses,” said Hay.

Hay said the cases of students abusing this system are rare, and students who withdraw from their courses are generally asked to repay at least some of the money. Due to the meticulous selection criteria in place however, this seldom happens, she said.

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