STUDENTS who have been accepted to the three universities in Fiji but cannot go to school because they cannot afford it should not worry.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama announced, from France, a new government loan package worth $2million to students from low-income families.
Commodore Bainimarama said no Fijian student who was accepted into university should be denied the opportunity to attend because they could not afford it.
During a press conference yesterday, acting Prime Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said vice chancellors of the University of the South Pacific, the Fiji National University and the University of Fiji would forward the names of students who were deprived from this right because they could not afford it.
Explaining the details of the loan package, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said eligible students would receive a government loan with a low interest rate of 0.5 per cent to one per cent to pay for tuition and living expenses.
He said students would only be asked to begin repaying the loan once they started working and were earning a reasonable salary.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the government had liaised with the three universities who welcomed the idea.
He said they would provide the list of students from their respective universities who had received a letter of offer but who were facing difficulties paying their tuition.
"Countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have very similar initiatives, which have proven to be very successful," he said.
He added the relevant guidelines and laws would soon be in place, and details of this program would be published.
He urged eligible students and their parents to take advantage of the new program.
Commodore Bainimarama said the new program was a serious investment in Fiji's future and that the returns for the country would be significant.
He said the loan package would cover the cost of tuition and would be available to students who received letters of acceptance from tertiary institutions but were unable to pay for it.
"We must ensure that all of Fiji's talented and bright youth have the ability and opportunity to attend university and that cost isn't a barrier," he said.
He said as a result, Fiji would have more robust and expansive group of young professionals.
He added that not only would that mean a more high-skilled and better-paid jobs for the young people, but it would also bring benefit for their families, communities and for all Fijians.
Commodore Bainimarama said over the past few years, the government had been focused on increasing access to primary and secondary education and that now, it was time to do the same for tertiary education.