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NZ Govt gives benefits to Catholic theology students

Access to Catholic tertiary education has become easier for New Zealanders with a Ministry of Education announcement that Good Shepherd College students are to have access to student allowances and loans.

Good Shepherd Theological College, an offshore campus of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, is New Zealand's newest Catholic tertiary institution. It opened in 2001 to take over the academic courses that had been offered by the diocesan and Marist seminaries across the country.

Initially their courses were only for candidates for the priesthood, but since the 1970s they have been available to all. Good Shepherd College is accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to teach a bachelor of theology degree as an offshore campus of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, a member college of the Sydney College of Divinity.

However, when it sought approval to be funded for this it fell foul of a Government moratorium introduced in July 2000. This resulted in the college delivering a recognised degree but not being funded like other educational institutions. And that meant students did not qualify for student allowances, student loans or even for suspending the interest on student loans.

Despite the students' access to government benefits, the college is still seeking equivalent fulltime student funding. At present it is funded entirely by the Society of Mary and New Zealand dioceses.

So far it has not convinced the Ministry of Education that theological and ministry education is aligned with the government's strategic priorities.

NZ Catholic

Good Shepherd College
Catholic Institute of Sydney

5 Feb 2003