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N Z Med J. 2017 Jun 16;130(1457):38-44.

Rising levels of New Zealand medical student debt.

Author information

Centre for Medical and Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland.
Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland.



There is little recent data on the debt levels accrued by New Zealand medical graduates. We aimed to quantify the level of student loan debt accrued by medical graduates upon completion of their medical degree, and to investigate the association of New Zealand Government Student Loan (GSL) debt with gender and age.


At graduation each year from 2006-2015, students from one New Zealand medical programme were invited to complete a career intention survey that included information on levels of GSL debt and the number of income sources used.


The overall response rate was 83.8%. On average, 92% of domestic students reported having some student loan debt, with 28% a debt of $90,000 or more. The proportion of students reporting a student loan debt of $90,000 or more increased over the period of the study (P<0.0001). While older students were more likely to have a larger student loan debt than younger students, there was no difference in debt levels by gender. Students with larger student loans were more likely to rely on a larger number of financial sources to fund their studies.


New Zealand medical students are carrying higher levels of student loan debt year on year. The effect of this on the future medical workforce is not certain; however, this could be negative if graduates choose to enter careers that are more highly paid over areas of high need. The full impact of large loans on individuals and the health system will take years to determine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Conflict of interest statement

Ms Verstappen is the manager of the Tracking Project and was funded by a grant from Health Workforce New Zealand during the conduct of the study. The authors’ opinions are not necessarily those of the University of Auckland.

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