Last week BCN news reported on the story of four 17 year old students who are calling on changes to the age eligibility criteria for the selection of NZ scholarships.
The New Zealand High Commission has since issued a statement explaining the eligibility criteria.
“The Manaaki New Zealand Scholarships are specifically aimed at adults and this means minors are ineligible for the open categories under the NZ and Pacific-based tertiary schemes.
New Zealand law treats under 18 year olds as minors. This is relevant in terms of the contractual arrangements MFAT has made with tertiary institutions to deliver the scholarship programme, which does not cover the provision of pastoral and support services to minors.”
The Manaaki New Zealand Scholarships programme is run across the region, including Niue, and as such the selection criteria needs to be applied equitably”.
The statement did not respond to the question on why the students could not be considered for semester two when they would already be 18.
The students are saying that this age requirement is unfair because scholarships should be based on academic achievements and not age.
Since this story broke, many parents have taken to the BCN Facebook page saying that their children went through the same problem, while the majority support the student’s and calling for a review of the criteria especially if it will continue to affect many more students coming up over the next few years.
BCN news understand that some teachers at Niue High school encouraged and help them to apply for this scholarship in the hope that they will be considered for semester two intake.
They are also querying why the criteria should be strictly that they need to be 8 by the 1st of January next year when some of them will be 18 before the start of university semester 1.
These students are in their last year of high school at year 13 and are asking why they cannot be eligible for enrolment in semester two when they will already be 18.
The students Dessyo Pavihi-Sioneholo will be 18 in February, Jorja Tuhipa will be 18 in March, Kyra Poihega and Lani Head will both turn 18 in April next year.
The only scholarship options for the students are the NZ scholarship and the Australian scholarship opportunities which are only available at regional universities and not for NZ universities. It has been a long while since the Niue government offered scholarships.
There is still no response from the Minister and Director of Education on the students’ concerns at the practice of promoting students at the primary school level and whether the government will review this policy.