Student says $50/week from TELS not enough for food

The Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was asked to increase the food allowance provided under the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme.

Staff Writers

May 14, 2017 2:14 pm

The AG was conducting budget consultations with staff and students at the University of the South Pacific in Suva on Friday.

The USP student explained that the $50 per week meal allowance was insufficient to purchase food, as it meant he only had 7.14 per day for food.

“A decent sized meal would always cost around 8 dollars so do you expect us to have only one meal per day?”

In response, the AG said the food allowance should be seen in the context of ensuring students have access to tertiary education.

“Prior to this nobody got TELS, prior to this nobody got a meal allowance. I’m not defending the low amount but the fact is that there are now more students in Fiji than ever before that are getting assistance.”

The AG said more than 16,000 students were currently being assisted through TELS.

The student presumably was a recipient of TEL’s Accommodation Support Scheme, which allows him to borrow up to $250 per month for rent, $15 per week on bus fare, and $50 per week for food.

TELS provides student loans for tertiary education at a 0.5% to 1.5% annual interest.

After graduating and getting paid employment, recipients have to repay the loan to Government through a 20% deduction from their gross salary.

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