27 Mar 2013

Living costs kill Maori students' degree dreams - advisor

10:31 am on 27 March 2013

A careers advisor in the Far North says some Maori students are abandoning dreams of taking science and medical degrees because their whanau can't afford to pay for their children to live away from home.

Mareea Paitai of Kaitaia College says parents are shocked at the amount of money undergraduates take out in loans and don't want more debt by paying for accommodation at university.

She says some bright pupils want to become surgeons and pharmacists, but take a different career path when they find out how much it will cost to complete a medical course.

Ms Paitai says some students take a gap year or go to work to save money, while others focus on training that won't be so financially daunting.

She says there is a range of scholarships on offer, but there aren't enough to go around.

Ms Paitai says some students also choose to gain medical qualifications by joining the defence force.

Meanwhile, Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa - the Maori Medical Practitioners Association - says accommodation costs are clearly blocking some young Maori from going on to train to work in medicine.

Association chairperson Dr George Laking says city living is proving to be prohibitive and a barrier to rangatahi Maori studying at tertiary level.

Dr Laking says Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa will talk to the universities about the cost of student accommodation, but says the state-funded system is ultimately the responsibility of the Government.