Millions in hardship cash was never paid out to students

More than NZ$2.5 million (US$1.7 million) of New Zealand government COVID-19 hardship money has not been paid out to the tertiary students it was intended to help, despite some struggling to pay bills and buy food during the pandemic, writes Lee Kenny for Stuff.

The government announced the NZ$20 million hardship fund for learners in 2020 to help students buy digital devices and get online. Of the NZ$19.5 million allocated to 120 organisations in the 2020-21 financial year, only NZ$17 million was actually given to students. Late last year a further NZ$20 million was pumped into the fund, which the government said could be used to help students facing any kind of hardship that interfered with their ability to study, including technology-related costs for remote learning.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) says the “inaccessible” process meant money is “sitting in a bank account”. Andrew Lessells, president of NZUSA, said the Tertiary Education Commission, which allocates the money to education providers, operated a “high-trust model” but had “no concrete claw-back scheme” to ensure unused money was returned.
Full report on the Stuff site