Becoming a student after 21 years!

Like a lot of teenagers, she “knew it all” and was ready to leave school without seriously considering the future.

At 17 years old she said goodbye to college and hello to her working life.

Today we caught up with NZRelo member Sue and got to chat about her decision to study at Massey University via distance education.

After our introduction and a bit of small talk of where in NZ we call home, me being windy Wellington and Sue from just over the hill in the beautiful Wairarapa, we got down to it.

Why go back to study?

Sue has been in Australia for nearly 14 years now, arriving in 2004 (after the 2001 cut off) As an adult she has always wanted to study but as a mother of two and in a foreign country unable to access student loans or allowances her only option was to work.

Sue said she has worked in mainly hard labour industries with a lot of manual work, unfortunately in Sues last job she injured herself quite badly.

Suddenly she found herself as a single mum with a mortgage, no formal qualifications, with no work experience other than in jobs she could no longer do and unable to get help from Centrelink.

 “I was terrified, the only money now coming in was the family tax benefit and this barely covered the mortgage let alone food and the rest of the bills”

 Why Massey University?

After a year of surviving solely on the family tax benefit and making every cent count Sue saw that NZRelo had teamed up with Massey University and they had made it possible for kiwis living in Australia to get not only student loans but also student allowances.

Sue thought, maybe this was exactly what she was looking for?

A way of furthering her career options, still being able to work around her children and have an income all in one.

She went through the course options and found one that would help get her qualified in what she wanted “Diploma in Communication”

After going to Studylink and doing the eligibility test, Sue realised she not only qualified for the student allowance but because she hadn’t done any tertiary education previously she also qualified for the New Zealand governments new “Fees Free scheme” which meant her first year of university study was completely FREE.



I could hear the emotion in Sues voice as she said…

“the weight that lifted off my shoulders after that eligibility test was unbelievable, I was not only going to be able to get the formal qualification I always wanted, but also be able to keep a roof over my kids heads and food in their tummies”

Advice for others wanting to study?

“Definitely do it! Reach out and follow your dreams, it’s never too late”

It’s been a while since I last studied and I’m terrified but extremely excited for our future now.

Because of the “Fees Free scheme” I didn’t end up applying for a student loan but it’s fantastic to know the option is there if I want to continue my studies after the first year.

There was a lot of paperwork I had to put through and it honestly was quite frustrating at times but to see the words “Student allowance approved” and know that my children and I could stay in Australia and actually get assistance was an amazing feeling!

  • Written By Renei G 14/09/2018

“I will forever be thankful for NZRelo and Massey University teaming up and giving kiwis like myself this amazing opportunity”


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  1. kelbnewie 2 years ago

    I was about to give up today but after reading your story, I felt to say Thank You for being so Encouraging. The jargon is different, my brain is sore, but I WILL continue doing my online course which finishes mid-next year. Kia Ora, Kelli.

    • Author
      Mark B 2 years ago

      @nzreloadmin2 did a great job explaining it all, thank you for your feed back Kel – let us know when you finish we are keen to do a follow up story if youre interested

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