The Government has announced a further $20 million contribution to its Hardship Fund for Learners to help around 15,000 students to stay connected to their learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know a strong public health response is the best approach to COVID-19, and we know that in taking swift, decisive action we give our tertiary students the best chance to return to their studies in workshops, classrooms and lecture theatres,” Education Minister, Chris Hipkins said.
“But the Government also recognises that COVID-19 has made continuing to study difficult.
“In Budget 2020, we established the $20 million Hardship Fund for Learners. We then extended the fund with a further $10 million as part of Budget 2021. We know that this fund is helping people, which is why we are extending it for a third time.”
Mr Hipkins said the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) would have the discretion to continue paying out both student loans and allowances to learners who are unable to resume their study until COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
He said the additional money would be paid to tertiary providers, as it has previously, to be distributed to learners.
“It can be used to help students who are facing any kind of hardship that is interfering with their ability to progress with their study. For example it can address financial challenges, or be used for technology-related costs where COVID-19 restrictions remove options for face-to-face study.”
“Because students’ needs are diverse, this funding is flexible. Tertiary providers understand the needs of their students and will distribute it in the way that is most suitable. Learners may receive either cash grants, or goods/services purchased on their behalf,” Mr Hipkins said.
“COVID-19 is a tricky and unpredictable virus that will be with us for some time yet. That is why through today’s funding we are supporting learners’ current financial needs and helping to provide cover into the start of 2022.
“If you are a tertiary student and need support to keep studying, please talk to your provider.”
The Tertiary Education Commission will be working directly with providers to manage this additional funding.