2 May 2020

Hipkins announces $20m fund to help tertiary students to learn online

8:54 am on 2 May 2020

A $20 million fund has been announced to help tertiary students access digital devices and the internet to continue learning during Covid-19 disruptions.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on 21 April 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Photo: 2020 Getty Images

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said the government wanted to ensure students had the right support for distance learning.

"Now we have set up a fund that tertiary education organisations can access including Wānanga, the NZIST and its subsidiaries, universities, transitional industry training organisations and private training establishments," Hipkins said in a statement.

"Tertiary providers are best placed to work with their learners to identify those who are most in need during this time. Learners should contact their tertiary provider to discuss what kind of support they require."

The $20m would pay for about 18,500 learners to be connected to the internet and get a device, but more learners will benefit if they only needed one or the other, he said.

The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) will distribute funding to its 16 subsidiaries.

A recent survey by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) shows at least 11,150 learners do not have the right devices to engage in distance learning and at least 11,350 learners do not have access to broadband internet at home.

"Many programmes are being delivered online in response to Covid-19, including courses like carpentry that are traditionally delivered on-the-job. As we rebuild the economy, we need a skilled workforce to keep our sectors such as construction moving forward," Hipkins said in a statement.

The government has already increased the student loan amount available for course-related costs for full-time students from $1000 to $2000 on a temporary basis.

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