PM Increases Access To University

Mar 13, 2013, 07:00 ET from The Republic of Fiji

Students from low income families have new path to University

SUVA, Fiji, March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama of The Republic of Fiji has announced a new Government loan program worth a total of 2 million Fiji dollars (USD 1.1 million) to aid students from low-income families.

The Prime Minister said that the new program was a serious investment in Fiji's future and that the returns for the country would be significant.

"My Government is committed to increasing Fiji's intellectual capital to meet the need for young professionals of all types as Fiji continues to develop and modernise," the Prime Minister said.

The loan package, which will cover the cost of tuition, will be available to needy students who receive letters of acceptance from tertiary institutions.

"We must ensure that all of Fiji's talented and bright youth have the ability and opportunity to attend university – that cost isn't a barrier," the Prime Minister said. "As a direct result of this initiative – in four to five years – we will have a more robust and expansive group of young professionals in Fiji. Not only does this mean more high-skilled and better-paid jobs for our young people, but it will also bring benefit for their families, for their communities and for all Fijians."

The Prime Minister said that over the past few years his Government had been focused on increasing access to primary and secondary education, and that the time had come to do the same for tertiary education.

"In the 2013 Budget, we announced two major new tertiary scholarship programs – the agricultural and trade scholarships – to add to the existing scholarship initiatives," he said. "And now, with this new initiative, we will have the ability to help more Fijian students than ever before."

Explaining the details of the loan package, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum<> said that eligible students would receive a Government loan – with a low interest rate of 0.5% to 1% – to pay for tuition.

Students would only be asked to begin repaying the loan once they started working and were earning a reasonable salary.

The Attorney-General said that Government had consulted with the Vice Chancellors of the University of the South Pacific<>, the Fiji National University<> and the University of Fiji<> who warmly welcomed the idea and offered to provide lists of students from their respective universities who have received a letter of offer but who are facing difficulties paying their tuition.

"Countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have very similar initiatives, which have proven to be very successful," the Attorney-General said.

"This is all about building a better, smarter and modern Fiji. This demands bright and talented individuals who have the ability to innovate and excel," the Prime Minister said.

SOURCE The Republic of Fiji