27 May 2015

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) supports the call by the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) for the Government to urgently address the impact of time restrictions on the student loans of many medical students currently part way through their study.

“We have raised this previously with the Government,” says NZMA Chair Dr Stephen Child. “We continue to be concerned that no action has been taken to enable all medical students to take out student loans to cover the full length of their study.

“The medical degree is a six-year degree and—while costly to the Government to run—it is also costly for students, about 30% of whom are selected by universities from a pool of applicants with previous degrees.

“From November this year there are likely to be at least 150 students a year who will be affected by this—unable to borrow from any other sources, and unable to complete their medical studies.

“This cap on student loans limits the pool of people undertaking medical training to those with financial resources. Graduates in other degrees, who may be ideal candidates, may decide not to train as doctors due to financial considerations, which would be a great loss to our future medical workforce.

“For these reasons we believe there should be an exemption from this policy for medical students who are required to undertake longer terms of study. In 2008 the Government made the decision to invest in more medical student numbers to reduce New Zealand’s reliance on doctors trained overseas but we now risk losing a large number of these students if action is not taken.”