Winston Peters –
It must be obvious to many New Zealanders now that New Zealand’s foreign student industry is a money-making racket.
It is not about integrity; it is not about high quality education. It has come down simply to dollars.
Foreign students bring in $3 billion every year to the New Zealand economy.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said that the goal is to have this amount increased to $5 billion by 2025.
That is all he and the National government are interested in.
Needle in haystack
Under their unregulated money grabbing circus, the government have allowed hundreds of agents to proliferate in India, most of whom are unregulated.
At last count, 1200 agents supplied students to New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand managed to weed out at least 57 corrupt agents but this is the clichéd needle in a haystack.
To give an idea of how farcical the ‘system,’ is, New Zealand government officials put an education agent on a list of fraudsters; then officials from the same ministry gave him a licence.
It turned out that there was no coordination or communication going on between the New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) at all.
And Mr Joyce had the effrontery to claim the international student industry was robust and that the government was enforcing robust monitoring of the policy – the Education Code of Practice 2016 that came into force on July 1, 2016.
Under the Code, New Zealand institutions must “carry out and record reference checks on potential agents to ensure as far as possible they have not been involved in any conduct that is false, misleading, deceptive, or in breach of the law” and that they “ensure those agents provide international students with reliable information and advice about studying, working and living in New Zealand.”
It is obvious the law is there for window dressing but it is not being enforced.
Poor Quality Courses
What happens to the students when they reach New Zealand?
More often than not, many will attend poor quality courses in low standard accommodation under lowly qualified tutors.
An Indian agent advised New Zealand First that only a few Private Training Establishments (PTEs) had good infrastructure and standards.
Then what occurs if the documentation that the students acquired to come to New Zealand, as supplied by crooked agents, is found to be fraudulent?
As we now know, Mr Joyce and his government will back away and say that the responsibility rests with the student.
The conclusion people can draw from this is – the New Zealand government will allow lax standards to exist for foreign students coming to New Zealand; they will take their money; but if things go wrong, it is the students themselves that will bear the brunt of any illegality that occurs.
Recipe for disaster
New Zealand First believes some compassion should be shown to the students and that far tighter standards must apply to agents. Having 1200 agents supplying students to New Zealand is a recipe for disaster.
We would prefer New Zealanders licensed as agents working overseas or using digital technology for face to face interviews
A major incentive for foreign students coming to New Zealand is that they can acquire work visas.
That has brought a tsunami of exploitation.
New Zealand First was given an advertisement placed on a Countdown supermarket noticeboard in Auckland recently seeking ‘Asian student labour’ offering $6.50 cash an hour for a job.
This was not just an isolated case; it has been happening all over the place; New Zealand First’s policy is that immigrant employers caught ripping off workers should face deportation.
Indian leaders have also spoken up about students coming from India who sink into drug addiction, gambling and prostitution after finding that the promises they have been given about New Zealand are not true.
The picture is clear; New Zealand’s foreign student industry is tainted with corruption and exploitation.
And all Mr Joyce is concerned about is expanding this industry to meet National’s $5 billion a year target.
Winston Peters is New Zealand First Leader and an elected Member of Parliament from the Northland Constituency.