Auckland, February 21, 2018
A group of Chinese Students are demanding that the government help them after the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) closed their School.
The students have also alleged that the School stole some of the fees paid.
The students, who have been told by NZQA that despite paying $14,000 and spending a year studying in New Zealand that their qualifications will not be issued and that NZQA cannot transfer them to another school.
Students at New Zealand National College (NZNC) were told by NZQA on January 16, 2018 that the School would be closed, qualifications not awarded and that they should either find a place at another school or apply for a Visitor’s Visa.
At the time NZQA announced the closure of the NZNC, a group of about 40 students were just one step away from graduating. Their final examination ended on December 15, 2017, three weeks before the official closure of the institution.
Worse, the students have discovered that the School was charging the Chinese Students $14,000 a year while charging some other nationalities only $6000 a year.
NZQA have told them that it is up to the School to charge whatever they like depending on what the country of origin of the students.
“We came to this country to study because we knew that NZNC was permitted by the New Zealand Government to teach a NZQA approved qualification but after we passed the course and just before our graduation day NZQA have told us that the qualification is worthless and that the owner has stolen our fees by not paying them into the Public Trust” Frank, one of the students, said.
In discussions with NZQA about their options, the students were shocked to discover that the school owners had only deposited $6000 of the $14,000 in fees charged into the Public Trust while pocketing the other $8000.
Further, NZQA told some students that the receipts given by NZNC were not ‘official.’ Many students also reported that the School told them that all school fees must be paid either in cash or by bank cheque.
“We made enquiries with other students and suddenly found out that only Chinese students were charged $14,000 while other nationalities were charged $6000” Tom, another student said.
NZQA advised these students that schools could charge what they liked and if the students wanted to recover their money they would have to do it themselves.
Left in the lurch
While some of the Level 5 and 6 students were able to transfer to courses in other schools, NZQA have advised the group of Level 7 Business Diploma students that there are no other courses taught locally that can accommodate them and therefore the students are left stranded with no money and no qualification.
The students have now discovered that many other schools will not accept cross credits from the course they completed and because NZNC undertook their own English assessments, something permitted by NZQA at the time, and that their English levels are just not sufficient to get entry into other courses.
Sense of betrayal
Frank said, “When we paid our fees and applied for a visa, we felt so happy that New Zealand was inviting us to study a good quality qualification here. My parents worked so hard to save money for my study. Now, after I studied so hard for the course and waiting to graduate the Government has told me that I cannot have the qualification, that my money has gone, and I cannot get into another course. They also told me that it is ok for a Government approved course to charge $8000 more simply because I am Chinese. Is this how New Zealand treats international students?”
Immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont has been advising the group of students.
“It is embarrassing as a New Zealander to have to explain to these students that their School was approved by the government, yet we take their money, do not give them the qualification and tell them that it is ok to charge hugely different fees based on the country of origin of the students.
“At a time when the tertiary education sector is lobbying the new Minister of Immigration to not make any changes to the money-making scam that passes as an export education sector, we continue to hear these stories from students every day.
“Rather than the New Zealand Government falling over themselves to help these poor victims our Immigration system seems to be that it is their problem, we have got your money, so just go away now. The ultimate irony being that the school operated 238 Queen Street, just a few steps from the Auckland offices of Immigration New Zealand.
To make an even more of a mockery over the government’s concern for student victims, NZQA told the students that they would welcome any information about the school owner yet when the students went to the closed down school premises this week they found the owner still sitting at his desk selling the remainder of the school’s furniture,” Mr McClymont said.
Demand for action
“Why isn’t this thief in the jail?” demanded Tom.
Joe Carolan, from the Migrant Lives Matter campaign said, “It is now a year since the National Government deported Indian students who were the victims of similar crooks in these schools. If anyone should be deported, it is these education criminals, not their victims. (Prime Minister) Jacinda (Ardern) visited the Sanctuary occupation of the deportees last year and got a sound understanding of the issue alongside then Labour leader Andrew Little- I am personally calling on both now to intervene on behalf of these young students before New Zealand’s name turns to mud.”
There would be a meeting seeking Justice for Chinese Students on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 7 pm at UNITE Union Headquarters, located at 6A, Western Springs Road, Kingsland. A protest meeting is being organised by the Migrant Workers Association on Friday, February 23, 2018 at 2 pm in front of the New Zealand National College, 280 Queen Street, Central Business District, Auckland.
Further information can be obtained from Joe Carolan, Unite Union on 029-4455702 or Alastair McClymont on 021-331641.