Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced a $20 million fund to help eligible tertiary learners access digital devices and internet connections to continue their study disrupted by COVID-19.
“Many programs are being delivered online in response to COVID-19, including courses like carpentry that are traditionally delivered on-the-job. As we rebuild the economy, we need a skilled workforce to keep our sectors such as construction moving forward,” Chris Hipkins said.
A recent survey by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) shows 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.
“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 $1,000 to $2,000, on a temporary basis.
“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,” Chris Hipkins said.
The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) will distribute funding to its 16 subsidiaries. The NZIST was formed on 1 April as part of the Reform of Vocational Education, providing on-the-job, on-campus and online learning.