Student loan cap increase a welcome relief to Māori med students

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Government has lifted the lifetime cap on the student loan. One medical student Kera Sherwood-O'Regan says the option allows for more Māori to enter the profession and balance out the numbers.

Sherwood-O'Regan says, “The impact that this will have on so many of our people and so many of our rangatahi that are working their asses off to make a really big contribution to their community and to actually this in place now and to have that cap extended is actually going to make that reality."

The govt has lifted the lifetime cap on the student loan from eight to ten years. Third-year medical student Sherwood-O'Regan says it allows for more Māori to be represented in the health workforce.

She says, “It means that people can go and study and do Hikitia Te Ora the health science course they can do the bridging programs they need to do, they can do another degree if they need to, to be able to get into med school."

The Māori Medical Students Association Aotearoa says the cap threatened a number of tauira to either drop-out of medical school or find at least $15,000 in private funding to pay for their final years at medical school.

“Maybe they haven't come from backgrounds they haven't come from Kings College, they haven't come from Grammar, who are set up to create the perfect pre-med student, they're able to actually have that pathway and for our people that's huge,” says Sherwood-O'Regan.

The Māori Medical Students Association Aotearoa says this provides a welcome relief to tauira Māori across Aotearoa who had entered medical school via post-graduate pathways, and who were needing student loan support beyond the eight-year limit.

Sherwood-O'Regan says,”I think the repercussions are going to be huge - it's a right step.  It's a step in the right direction but it is just one of those but there is so much more that needs to be done as well.”

The limit will be extended to 10 years for medical students and others studying dentistry, optometry or veterinary science from January 2019.