University hardship fund well utilised

Prof Harlene Hayne
Prof Harlene Hayne
Students have been granted almost $1.5million in financial aid from the University of Otago’s hardship fund.

As of July 8, 724 students had received grants from the fund, Putea Tautoko.

They range from international students cut off from financial support from home to domestic students who have lost part-time work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund will continue to operate in 2021.

University vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said the fund was one reason students had not left the institution in droves.

The university had expected the attrition rate to be higher but domestic student numbers remained strong, she told a university council meeting yesterday.

"There is every chance now that once semester two enrolments fully settle we will actually achieve a modest level of domestic growth from 2019, partly offsetting our international decline."

International equivalent full-time student numbers are expected to decline by about 350.

Prof Hayne said students had been well supported in the transition they had to make to online learning.

Occupancy of residential colleges was about 99%, which is what would be expected in a normal year.

Chief financial officer Sharon van Turnhout said liquidity was strong but the university would need to start borrowing from December.

Income for the second half of 2020 would have a significant dent because of a lack of international students, she said.

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