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80,000 people eligible for fees free

The Government has today made good on its 100-day promise of delivering the first year of fees-free post school training and education and industry training from 1 January next year, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

“This Government has taken the first major steps to break down financial barriers to post-school training and education. Next year, around 80,000 people will be eligible for fees free post-school training and education.

“It comes on top of our recent announcement of $50 increases in student allowance and student loans weekly living costs limits, which will make more than 130,000 students $50 a week better off.

“The policy is a major investment in New Zealanders and the New Zealand economy. 

“It’s great news for young people who are finishing school and adults who have in the past been put off because of the cost, and it provides a genuine incentive to keep learning. This government is passionate about life-long learning.
 
“Employers have also been calling for bold forward thinking to build a future workforce with new skills to meet changing demands. That’s what this policy will deliver. 

“We expect the policy to halt, and over time reverse the current trend of fewer people going into post-school training and education. We have budgeted for a 3% increase in equivalent full-time students in 2018, equating to about 2000 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 the about 80,000 eligible students, estimates are that about 50,000 will train or study at a polytechnic, as industry trainees, at a wānanga or a PTE. The remainder will study at university.

Eligibility and implementation

Mr Hipkins said the policy details released today confirm the eligibility for fees-free in provider-based education and industry training.

“If you're a New Zealander who finished school in 2017, or if you will finish school during 2018, you qualify for a year of free provider based tertiary education or industry training in 2018. If you're not a recent school leaver, and you've done less than half a fulltime year of education or training, you also qualify,” Mr Hipkins said.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) will be responsible for implementing the fees-free policy, Mr Hipkins said. 

“The TEC is working with Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) to ensure effective implementation of the fees-free policy, minimising any extra work TEOs may have to do. The TEC has set up a fees-free website to help prospective students and trainees confirm their eligibility for free fees. The TEC is being supported by other agencies, including the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education and Inland Revenue. 

“I appreciate that enrolled and prospective learners have had to wait some time before seeing the final details of the fees-free policy and I thank them for their patience; however, I’m sure learners will be happy with the result,” Mr Hipkins said.

More information for prospective students and trainees is at the fees-free website www.feesfree.govt.nz.

Further information for tertiary education providers and industry training organisations is available on the TEC’s website – www.tec.govt.nz. 

The Government is committed to being transparent about how it develops and implements its policies. Cabinet papers on the Fees Free and student support costs polices are at: http://education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/information-releases/100-days.

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