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Tertiary students targeted in new financial literacy programme

Wednesday 20th June 2012

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Tertiary students' money management will be given a helping hand thanks to a joint initiative by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income and Visa launched in Wellington today.

Credit card issuer Visa will fund a pilot programme of up to 15 tutors from the city's Whitireia Polytechnic to attend a course in delivering financial education. It aims to improve the financial planning and management advice delivered to New Zealand students.

"For many young people tertiary study offers them their first taste of financial independence," said Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan. "They face decisions about student loans, flatting and part-time jobs and it’s vital that they have the knowledge to make good financial decisions that will set them up for their adult life."

"We need to make sure that those who are teaching financial literacy have the level of skill and knowledge required to give their students the tools they need,” she said.

The pilot stemmed from joint research by the commission and Visa which examined how to increase the quality of formal financial education. Research found some 53 percent of tutors who provided financial education didn't receive specialist training or professional development. The online survey across 34 tertiary institutions showed participants' main needs were in budgeting and learning to make good money choices.

"The most important financial tool is not products but knowledge," said Don Campbell, chief executive at Whitireia. “We hope this programme will be far reaching, improving not just the financial literacy of students but also their families and helping them make good choices about their spending now, as well as affecting their financial decisions in the future."

Massey University will undertake a longitudinal study to evaluate the pilot's effectiveness. Tutors will have to explain how they have integrated financial literacy into teaching programmes.

"This is a stepping stone for a larger discussion over the next couple of months to make New Zealand more financially literate," said Craig Foss, Minister of Commerce. "In our country many people have the option to opt out of financial literacy schemes, like KiwiSaver - New Zealanders need to understand the risks exposed to them."

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