Te ORA and Te Oranga Student Loan PRESS RELEASE (28 May 2015)

Te ORA and Te Oranga concerned that Māori will not be able to afford student fees to become medical doctors

Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa – Māori Medical Practitioners Association (Te ORA) and Te Oranga – Māori Medical Students Aotearoa is concerned that the current cap of seven years of student loan entitlement will be a significant barrier to Māori entering into medical school and becoming doctors.

A Medical degree in New Zealand requires 6 years of study, making it the longest undergraduate degree in the country. Each year 30% of the class is selected by the universities from a pool of applicants with a previous degree.

Dr Rawiri Jansen (Chair, Te ORA) says, Te ORA is deeply concerned that the current proposal will have a disproportionate negative effect on Māori students and their ability to complete their medical studies, noting that the journey for many Māori into medical careers is longer. I myself initially trained as a teacher, if this policy was in place back then, I wouldn’t be a Māori doctor today”.

Te ORA and Te Oranga also recognise that Māori medical students (current and potential) are more likely to come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Jake Aitken (Te Oranga & NZMSA representative) says, “It’s likely that this will impact adversely on Māori medical students who will struggle to stump up with the $15,000 – $30,000 required for them to complete their medical training. Te ORANGA is worried that this will deter young Māori from aspiring towards a career in medicine due to the financial strain that will be passed on to whānau”.

Both Te ORA and Te ORANGA highlight the significant investments made by both medical schools (Otago and Auckland) in recruiting, training and graduating Māori to become medical doctors. This has resulted in more Māori becoming medical doctors. This must continue and in fact, we need more to come through.

Dr Rawiri Jansen (Chair, Te ORA) says, ‘We are pleased to hear that Minister Joyce is keeping an open mind. Te ORA and Te Oranga urges Minister Joyce to ensure that the significant gains made in increasing the numbers of Māori medical doctors continues. We must capitalise on the investments made, we need a diverse medical workforce to respond to the increasing diverse health needs of our population. Simply, more Māori doctors is good for Māori and good for New Zealand”.

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