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Government announces $20m Covid-19 fund for tertiary students to access devices, internet

Tertiary students are set for assistance from the Government in continuing their studies that have been disrupted by Covid-19, thanks to a $20 million fund announced today.

A file image of a group of adult students studying. Source: Pexels.com

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the $20 million fund is to help eligible tertiary learners access digital devices such as laptops, as well as securing stable internet connections to continue their studies during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many programmes are being delivered online in response to Covid-19, including courses like carpentry that are traditionally delivered on-the-job,” Mr Hipkins said.

“As we rebuild the economy, we need a skilled workforce to keep our sectors such as construction moving forward.”

The fund comes after a recent survey by the Tertiary Education Commission and New Zealand Qualifications Authority showed 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.

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Covid-19 coronavirus has impacted the education of many, and their ability to earn money to pay for study and living expenses. Source: 1 NEWS

The Government estimates the fund can pay for around 18,500 learners to be connected to the internet and get a device, but more learners will benefit if they only need one or the other.

“The Government wants to make sure that students in need can access support for distance learning so they can continue their studies. We moved swiftly to help cover extra costs, by increasing the student loan amount available for course-related costs for full-time students from $,000 to $2000, on a temporary basis,” Mr Hipkins said.

“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.

“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.”