Aims: To determine the level and sources of medical student debt at the Christchurch School of Medicine.
Methods: A questionnaire, The New Zealand Wellbeing, Intentions, Debt, and Experiences (WIDE) Survey of Medical Students, was developed and administered to all 204 medical students at the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Included were questions on student demographics, sources and levels of debt, parental financial support, and student perceptions of their debt.
Results: The response rate was 88%. International students, whose debt was with an overseas government, and students with mortgages were excluded from the data analysis. The combined total debt for the remaining 165 students was $7775000 with $6290000 (81%) owed to the Government Students Loans scheme. One quarter of 6th year medical students had a debt over $83250, 50% had a debt over $70000, and 75% had a debt over $50000. Student allowances were inaccessible to 64% of 4th and 5th year students and part-time employment during term-time was common. Lack of funds was reported to impair full participation in the medical course.
Conclusion: The majority of medical students at the Christchurch School of Medicine accumulate high levels of debt, mainly dtrough the Government Student Loans scheme, during their medical training.