‘Education trafficking’ shames government and community

Denise Roche

Coverage of international student exploitation has hit the headlines recently with several sad articles about the state of international student exploitation in the country.

Accounts of Indian businesses ‘selling’ jobs that lead to residence have come out from Radio New Zealand. According to documents from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, some students are paying up to $40,000 in cash for jobs.

Illegal deductions

It is just the tip of the iceberg for exploitation with many sad accounts of students being forced to pay a third of their wages to their employer, having ‘deductions’ be made on their pay so it is well-below the agreed-on rate and working backbreaking hours for their employers in poor conditions.

This is the natural consequence of Government policy that has prioritised quantity of numbers over quality of support.

The Green Party has a proud record of standing up for the rights of international students and other migrants in Aotearoa.

One of my proudest moments as an MP was to stand in solidarity with the Indian international students who took sanctuary at Unity Church.

Students deserve better

International students deserve a high-quality education, robust pastoral care and an opportunity to contribute to New Zealand after they finish their course of study.

But in its rush to fill in the funding gaps created by their underfunding of the Tertiary sector, the Government has failed a basic duty of care that New Zealand owes to people coming here.

Migrant advocates and unions have long identified that too many of the courses offered in New Zealand are fronts for ‘Education Trafficking.’

This term includes education providers who abuse students by using them as indentured labour for horticulture with the education component only a thinly veiled attempt at masking the reality of exploitation.

It includes some education advisors based in India who trick students by selling a false vision of New Zealand and do unethical, illegal things like make misleading or false statements in the application.

And last but not the least, education providers who often do not provide a quality education that they promise.

Code of Practice

The Green Party will fix the education market.

We have worked with international students and other advocates in the community to identify solutions. These include a requirement for tertiary institutions to develop a code of practice for education advisors they employ, promoting accountability.

Another is to require tertiary institutions to develop a ‘Code of Conduct’ for student welfare to ensure that international students are being well looked after.

We also need to properly fund services that assist international students such as the Labour Inspectorate so they can be more proactive in investigating and shutting down exploitation.

International student exploitation is a national disgrace. The Green Party will end it.

Dennis Roche is Member of Parliament on Greens’ List and the Party’s Immigration and Ethnic Communities Spokeswoman.

Photo Caption: Defrauded Indian students at Unity Church in Auckland (Picture Supplied)

 

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