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October 4, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Bet you wished you’d studied harder now

Thousands of tertiary students around New Zealand will unexpectedly have their access to student loans cut off after it was discovered that the legislation changes introduced this year will take into account 2009 academic results.

The law changes, introduced in the 2010 Budget, mean that students who fail more than half of their course over a period of 1.6 Equivalent Full-Time Study (approximately two years) or more will be refused access to Student Loan scheme. However, when the scheme was announced, it was generally assumed that the changes would only take affect from the 2010 academic year onwards. This is not, in fact, the case.

The requirement to pass more than half of courses taken will be judged on a rolling basis, with a “rolling five-year assessment period” applying. This means that once a student reaches 1.6 EFTS, all their results will count for a period of five years, with results dropping out once five years of study has been reached.

The revelation that this change will be back-dated to include 2009 results means that thousands of students are likely to be denied access to student loans and will have to self-fund their study until they pass enough courses to move them back over the 50 per cent threshold. The implication of this is that many students will be unlikely to be able to remain in study, since the blocking of access applies to both fees and living costs.

Otago Polytechnic Chief Executive Phil Ker told TVNZ that 20 per cent of the Polytech’s students would be denied access when 2009 results were included. Ker said that this had the potential to financially cripple the institution.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce was unrepentant about the effects of the changes, telling TVNZ, “I struggle with the fact that the chief executive of one of our larger polytechnics has not taken the time to read the changes that are there, so that’s over to him, but they were clearly announced at the time”.

The exact number of students affected is currently unknown, but Joyce indicated that around 9000 students were likely to be affected.

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