Issue 395 July 1, 2018
Alastair McClymont has been our friend since Indian Newslink was established 19 years ago.
We consider him one of the finest and most experienced barristers and solicitors and immigration lawyers in the country.
His passion to get justice for the wronged is laudable and often he undertakes legal work on pro bono basis.
His crusade against Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has our support since we too believe that the Department is often myopic and discriminatory.
However, his observations on the decision of the Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier not to proceed with the complaint he filed against the decision of INZ to deport a large group of Indian students in 2017 and 2018 necessitate a closer analysis.
We have carried Mr McClymont’s press statement in full in our web edition as well as social media and a redacted version under Homelink of this issue.
That INZ does not get it right many a time, creating serious inroads into the life and career of people could be testified by our frontpage story in this issue.
Deportation of Indian students
In arguing against the deportation of the group of Indian students, Mr McClymont said that they were victims of fraud perpetrated by education agents in India.
It has also been reported that these agents were in collusion with some banks in providing false documents.
Following are some of the points that he raised in his Complaint to the Chief Ombudsman:
- The dodgy education agents in India represent education providers in New Zealand who manage and pay them; they do not represent the students
- Students choose from a selection of agents, but do not pay them
- The students signed blank forms – “a practice in the Indian cultural context” strongly encouraged by the agents of education providers
- INZ has uncovered in parallel investigations, cases in which Indian education agents have created fake email addresses on behalf of students for purposes such as a verification of information and undertaking interviews
Exploitation by agents
It is trite knowledge that some education agents in India demand large sums of money from prospective students making wild promises such as assured employment upon arrival, reduced term of study to take up full time jobs and permanent residence status in less than a year. While it is true that education agents should act on behalf of education providers, they often double dip and entertain false promises and engage them in fraudulent behaviour.
It is hard to believe that students, who go overseas for tertiary studies would be so naïve as to sign blank forms, allowing education agents to fill them as they please.
Signing blank forms may have been a practice some years ago in some families because of the implicit and inherent trust between siblings, parents and other close relatives, but not any more. Indians today, for the most part, do not sign blank documents, and commercial banks do not and cannot give false statements. It is however possible that a ‘temporary statement of available funds’ is issued but only when such monies are actually lodged in to the account. Such an act would require the full knowledge and consent of the account holder.
It is true that students choose from a pool of agents and do not pay them in the case of a large number of such operators who have established a reputation.
This newspaper is aware of a large number of such honest agents.
But the problem is that of a small number of rogues who rot the system.
They exploit students who want to go overseas by any means and extort money. We often hear of reports parents having mortgaged their land, jewellery and other assets to pay large sums of money to the agents. On arrival, the students face the harshness of reality.
INZ cannot be blamed for the plight of some of these Indian students and the Department must apply its stringent character standards.
However, we agree with Mr McClymont that there is an urgent need to regulate education agents in Indian and make them accountable.
A thorough overhaul of the system and procedures relating to the functioning of overseas education agents is long over due.
We will support Mr McClymont and others in their pursuit of this objective.
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