NZUSA have been working with Studylink
NZUSA have recently met with Studylink and have sent us the following information:
There have been some concerns about the loss of Field Officers and the impact this would have on advocates who are assisting with student loan/allowance applications. NZUSA have been told that if a student needs assistance in applying, the local Ministry of Social Development (MSD) office will walk someone through the entirety of the application process if need be. MSD said they would send around an email to their staff notifying them to be aware that there are students with additional needs and potentially low levels of numeracy and literacy who need that additional support. NZUSA will follow up with this when we see them next.
NZUSA have also been hearing that sole parents were being tossed between WINZ and Studylink. MSD is strategically aligning themselves to be a one-stop shop with Studylink and WINZ under the same roof (both physically and mentally). This should stop the to-ing and fro-ing and should benefit students in rural areas where there isn’t a dedicated Studylink office.
Students have also told NZUSA that they are being transferred too much when on the phone. NZUSA has been told that these students can ask to speak to a more senior staff member who has a wider knowledge base to minimise the transfers. NZUSA also recommended that MSD track the number of transfers and try and sort what is an acceptable limit.
Studylink have seen a massive increase in the number of people submitting their documents using the online tool. Additionally their dropped calls have dropped from 8,000 to even less again. Given it was at 800,000 before NZUSA started working with them, this is fantastic news!
NZUSA are meeting with MSD before Christmas so if you’ve heard of any new issues or want to provide feedback please let either our advocate Penny Lyall know or get in touch with NZUSA directly. After that our next meeting is in early-mid March to assess how the application period went.
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