Medical students upset over Labour’s blue budget

Chris Hipkins Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

I don’t think the budget has made anyone happy. The list of those upset with Labour’s blue budget is growing. This time it is medical students: Quote:

Medical students are upset with the Government for not getting rid of a cap on the number of years a student can get a student loan.

The National government put the eight-year cap in place in 2011, and it was opposed by the Labour Party and many students associations – particularly medical ones.

It means students who undertake a five-year medical degree after finishing a four-year degree in another field cannot get student loan money to cover their fees, living costs, or course-related costs in their final year.

Labour, NZ First,?and the Greens all committed to getting rid of the cap in their election manifestos, but Budget 2018 did not implement the change.

“It is disappointing to see?this new Government, in their first budget, to not live up to these expectations,” NZ Medical Students Association Vice-President Ajda Arsan said.

“Not only is this a waste of much needed doctors in the workfield, this is a waste of the taxpayers dollars already invested in that training. What help is a medical student with half a degree?” End quote.

More broken promises. Because, giving rich kids a free first year at university was more important, and this cap is bad for poor students: Quote:

The students association say a relatively small number of students hit the cap, and it would not be a very costly change.

“We are looking at 142 students affected by this,”?Arsan?said.

Chayce Glass of?Te Oranga, a union for M?ori?medical students and doctors, said the cap hit poorer students who could not rely on their parents to help with the last year of study the hardest.

It doesn’t?make?any sense why you would support a student up to a certain point and then stop there,?Glass said.

He said M?ori?only make up around five per cent of the medical workforce and keeping a cap on would help keep that number low.

“The EFTS cap affects those M?ori students who have entered medical school with previous degrees – including those who completed Foundation Level course -?and who are now facing the pressure of finding $25,000 per year to fund the remainder of their medical studies,” he said.

“There aren’t that many M?ori?doctors existing out there in the?M?ori?workforce, why are you stopping this select group getting through?”?End quote.

So, racist as well? Quote:

Both Glass and Arsan said they had been having productive talks with now-Education Minister Chris Hipkins?in recent years, but they had not talked to him since November.

They were supportive of other moves to help students such as the boost to student allowances and the gradual introduction of fees-free, but were looking for at least a timeline from Hipkins as to when the cap might be removed, so students could plan ahead.

In?order for students to plan for the future, we need?to know what is actually happening.

Hipkins?said fiscal constraints had stopped the policy change happening immediately.

“Given other funding pressures, we could not achieve everything in Budget 2018,” Hipkins said.

“We will be considering this for 2019.”?End quote.

So, Hipkins says one thing in opposition and delivers something entirely different in government. Some would say it is a broken promise, while others would say it is lying. What is obvious is that the government thought funding rich kids in their first year at university was more important than allowing medical students with a proven success rate to fund their last year at medical school.