POOR students in Fiji will now have a chance to study at the Fiji National University under the Student Financial Aid Scheme.
The scheme which was approved by the University's council last year was launched yesterday, by the Minister for Education Filipe Bole who aims to eradicate poverty in Fiji.
"Helping more students to attend university and gain tertiary qualifications was a way to attack poverty," Mr Bole said.
"If people were better educated it bettered their prospects for their lives," he said.
The first part of a four component scheme was already in operation.
FNU vice chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand said a work or study program for poor students who had no scholarships or funding support gave them an opportunity to work for FNU to earn an income that goes to paying their fees.
Student Financial Aid Scheme officer Joseph Camillo said 33 students had joined the work/study scheme since it started in June.
"They worked up to 15-20 hours a week in various sections of the university on different campuses to earn a rate of $3.66 hour to be paid towards their fees," Mr Camillo said.
Dr Chand said the second component of the Student Financial Aid Scheme being put in place was to pay the fees of the poorest students and allow them to pay off the amount after they graduated and begin earning an income.
He said for the third component of the scheme, there was an increasing pool of resources they could tap in the corporate sector, who could sponsor students.
The fourth component was to involve ex students, the alumni.
Dr Chand said although FNU was a relatively new institution, parts of it had a long history including the Fiji School of Medicine, that was more than 125 years old, he said.
"These institutions have produced many graduates, many of whom are very well to do," he said
He said they want a dynamic alumni to take on projects at FNU to sponsor students and set up endowments.