New Zealand citizens who have been long-term residents of Australia since childhood will be given access to the Australian student loans programme from 1 January 2016.

Legislation to implement the measure will be introduced into the Australian Parliament next week.

It honours Australia’s longstanding commitment to New Zealand, most recently confirmed at the 28 February 2015 Leaders' Meeting.

It will give access to Special Category Visa holders who first entered Australia as a dependent child, and who have lived in Australia for at least 10 years. 

If the Bill is passed this year, around 2,600 New Zealanders are expected to be eligible for loans to help them study at university, or higher level vocational education and training qualifications, in 2016.

Higher education plays a crucial role in creating opportunities for individuals – it enriches their lives and careers.

It also provides the skills needed to boost productivity and improve Australia’s economic acompetitiveness.

This Bill represents important opportunities for New Zealanders who have long called Australia home, and provides fairness given Australians on certain visa categories have long had access to New Zealand’s student loan scheme.

Work is also underway in both countries to explore how we can share data to best support overseas student loan debt recovery efforts.

Legislation is currently before the Australian Parliament that will require students living overseas to repay their Australian student loans. This legislation will also allow data to be exchanged between both countries to support overseas debt recovery.