On 5 December 2017, the Minister of Education, the Hon Chris Hipkins, announced that next year, around 80,000 people will be eligible for fees-free post-school training and education. He said this comes on top of the recent announcement of $50 increases in student allowances and student loans weekly living costs limits, which will make more than 130,000 students $50 a week better off.
The Government has budgeted for a 3% increase in equivalent full-time students in 2018, equating to about 2,000 extra students. The Government has budgeted for up to $380 million in the current financial year across the fees-free policy and the $50 increases to student loans and allowances. Of about 80,000 eligible students, estimates are that about 50,000 will train or study at a polytechnic, as industry trainees, at a wananga or a PTE. The remainder will study at university.
The Minister said that Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) will be responsible for implementing the fees-free policy. Further information for tertiary education providers and industry training organisations is available on the TEC's website - www.tec.govt.nz.
To summarise, from 1 January 2018, eligible learners will be able to access either their first year of tertiary study, or their first two years of industry-based training fees free.
To be eligible for fees-free funding, the course or industry training programme must:
• start in 2018
• be funded by TEC
• be recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority
• at Level 3 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, and
• or industry training only, be at least 120 credits.
For information on how learners can find out if they are eligible go to the fees-free website www.feesfree.govt.nz. A dedicated helpline, 0800 687 775 is also available.