19 May 2018

Med students disappointed by broken Budget promise

11:50 am on 19 May 2018

Medical students say the government has "left them in the dark" by breaking its promise to lift the eight-year borrowing limit on their student loans in this year's Budget.

Male and female medical students or doctors using digital tablet and laptop during the lecture or conference. Focus on the man with pad

Photo: 123rf

During last year's election campaign, Labour promised to lift the cap on loans for students taking longer courses like medicine and dentistry.

Late last year Education Minister Chris Hipkins said lifting the borrowing cap would be considered as part of the budget process.

But it had not been addressed this time around.

Medical Students Association president Jibi Kunnethedam said this left postgraduate students who had already hit the borrowing limit in limbo about how they would fund the rest of their studies.

"We feel like we've been left in the dark and ignored," he said.

"A promise was made....and one that we thought would count."

It was most concerned about the impact on Māori students and the future Māori workforce.

Most affected were students who did not have access to financial support from parents.

"They are finding yet another barrier to overcome in their dreams to becoming a doctor," he said.

Students did not want such degrees to remain accessible only for privileged people.

"It will be too late for some students," he said.

The Education Minister's office said in a statement other funding constraints meant the government could not do everything in this year's Budget but would be considered in 2019.

The Medical Students' Association had long been campaigning for the cap to be lifted. It was put in place in 2011 by the National government.

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