Students picking up fees-free study
Palmerston North learners are lapping up the chance to try tertiary education, with the number of government-funded fees-free scholarships in the city climbing.
More than 70 students have scooped scholarships for one year of fulltime fees-free study at UCOL since the start of the year.
The number of spots the polytechnic has available through the government-funded Youth Guarantee scheme has been boosted to 120, up 80 per cent on last year's spaces.
The scheme gives 16 to 19-year-olds the chance to study levels 1 to 3 programmes, with the Government footing the bill in a bid to get teens into school, study or work.
More than 120 scholarship applications were received for semester 1 at UCOL, with 76 students selected and starting study in 16 courses and more expected for semester 2.
UCOL deputy chief executive for academic Bonnie Dewart said the scholarships were an avenue to help students transition between school, tertiary education and work.
"Some students haven't had much time at secondary school but they are seeking this opportunity to make a positive change in their life and it's pleasing to be able to support students in this way to achieve their full potential."
Awarangi Gray Nicholls, 18, started a UCOL Certificate in Science and Health this year, with her fees and travel costs covered by the scholarship.
She was referred to the scheme by her careers adviser at Freyberg High School as a bridging course for university after skipping physics and chemistry in her subject choices but wanting to pursue a career in medicine.
Her father, Lincoln Nicholls, an orthopaedic surgeon at Palmerston North Hospital, has been her inspiration to enter the industry but Gray Nicholls wants to work in paediatrics.
"I love kids, and it's a great way to help them out."
The scholarship had laid the foundations for further study and provided a taste of tertiary education, she said.
"UCOL is very different from school and... it's a great stepping stone from school to university."
She plans to study medicine at Otago University or Auckland University next year.
Of the 66 students awarded Youth Guarantee scholarships at UCOL last year, 24 are in employment, eight have started apprenticeships and 27 went on to further study in vet nursing, visual imagery, engineering and midwifery.