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Waiting (forever) for official information…

Holly Walker MP
Holly Walker MP
holly [dot] walker [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

I’ve been blogging a bit recently (here and here) about changes to student loan eligibility criteria after TV3 revealed in this story that a number of postgraduate students who thought they had been given an assurance by Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce that they would still get a student allowance in 2013 found out that their allowance has been cut off along with everyone else’s.

Back when the changes were announced, I asked Minister Joyce via written question for a list of policy advice he considered when making this incredibly short-sighted decision.

He revealed that the following documents exist and were considered by the Government before deciding to change the student allowance eligibility criteria:

-Student Allowances: Further advice on Budget 2012 options (9 March 2012)

-Impact of student allowance initiatives (23 March 2012)

-Information to support joint Ministers’ meeting on Wednesday 28 March on student support Budget proposals (27 March 2012)

-Student allowances: Removing eligibility for postgraduate study (12 April 2012)

I requested these under the Official Information Act back in July and received the Minister’s response in August, declining my request on the grounds that “the information requested is, or soon will be publicly available”. Well, nearly four months have passed and this information is still not publically available. I don’t know about you, but ‘soon’ certainly doesn’t mean four months or more in my books!

In the absence of any publicly-available policy advice on these ill-considered changes, students have started doing their own research, and they are finding widespread dismay amongst postgraduate students at the impact of these changes. I suspect the officials advised the Minister much the same, which is why he’s so reluctant to release the advice. I have complained to the Ombudsman about the slow response. Meanwhile I’ll continue to chase up this important advice and will share it as soon as I have it… if ever!

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