PRESS RELEASE: Student Loan EFTS Cap Not Included in Budget 2018 

The New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) and Te Oranga (Māori Medical Students’ Association Aotearoa) are deeply concerned the cap on student-loan borrowing was not addressed in Budget 2018.

“It was Labour, Greens and NZ First election policy to reinstate borrowing beyond the current limit. It is disappointing to see this new Government, in their first budget, to not live up to these expectations.” says Vice-President Ajda Arsan.

Minister for Tertiary Education Chris Hipkins made comments in the media after the election stating the Government would seek to address the EFTS cap in Budget 2018. Even today, Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson announced “we want people from all backgrounds to be able to go on to training and education at any time”.

Despite these assurances, the 2018 budget leaves postgraduate students at the end of their EFTS limit without access to student loan funding for the remainder of their studies – with some having to call into question their financial ability to complete the programme.

“Not only is this a waste of much needed doctors in the workfield, this is a waste of the taxpayers dollars already invested in that training. What help is a medical student with half a degree?”

NZMSA and Te Oranga have concern over the negative impact this has on the future Māori medical workforce. Chayce Glass, Tumuaki o Te Oranga says “With the cap still in place, many of our tauira may not able to continue with their medical training. This threatens to undo the significant work that has been undertaken to support proportional numbers of Māori studying medicine”.

NZMSA and Te Oranga acknowledges the strides this government has taken in improving health and education funding, however not rectifying the EFTS cap is an oversight. To address the diverse needs of Aotearoa’s communities, we need a representative and equitable health workforce – beginning with medical students from diverse backgrounds. Both NZMSA and Te Oranga are disappointed to see this government has neglected this issue, and these students, in Budget 2018.

Both organisations will continue to hold the government accountable to their election promises and will be seeking clarification on when we can expect these changes to be implemented.

Facts and Figures:
– The EFTS policy was first introduced under National Government in 2012.
– Long-length programmes, such as medicine, are eligible for up to 8 EFTS of student loan borrowing.
– Medical school takes a minimum of 6 years to complete – longer if students have undertaken study to prior to entering medical school (foundation programmes, health certificate, bachelors, honours, masters etc).
– 1 year of medical school is approximately $15-16,000.
– In 2017, NZMSA and Te Oranga conducted a nationwide survey and found at least 142 medical students affected by this cap.

Party Policies:
Labour –
Green –

NZMSA and Te Oranga’s joint petition:


Ajda Arsan
NZMSA Vice President External

Chayce Glass
Te Oranga Tumuaki