More than 12,000 students come from India to New Zealand every year to pursue their higher education at our Universities and tertiary institutions.
A majority of the students from India are in the 19-22 age group and possibly their first overseas travel. It is therefore natural that they feel homesick, lost and helpless soon after their arrival in New Zealand.
Their seniors from India take on the role of mentors, albeit with a slightly longer stay in this country. Many of them provide (often unsolicited) advice that would be either incomplete or completely wrong.
New students usually do not have any contacts with arriving students with mature persons who can guide them correctly through their difficulties. Many of them suffer from language problem, although they are required to pass English examination prior to obtaining a student visa in India.
As a result, international students from India become gullible to exploitation by some unscrupulous employers and property owners. For example, students are forced to work long hours, receive less than minimum wage and suffer humiliation. It is also common for students to be slapped with unfair and even illegal tenancy terms imposed by property owners, who rent their flats, apartments or homes.
Some students learn on arrival that they were duped or provided with wrong advice by their education agents in India. There are many complaints of gaining admission into institutions that are substandard with poor academic and learning environment.
They are forced to remain silent for fear of being deported or jeopardized further as international students.
International students invariably don’t know that they have rights and that the New Zealand government does not tolerate exploitation by anyone, including employers and landlords.
There is a growing need for establishing a credible and free advisory service for international students from India to help overcome the initial challenges that they face and help them to adapt the New Zealand way of life.
I believe that it is imperative to mentor international students from India to file complaints against the unscrupulous agents in India, connect with the education provider of the institution which admits the students and examine the quality of teaching and the learning environment.
The Advisory will also meet employers engaging international students from India and ensure that the latter are not exploited and that they work only for the period allowed (normally maximum of 20 hours a week) and receive prompt payment of the prescribed minimum wage.
The students should be aware that the New Zealand Parliament has recently passed the Immigration Amendment Bill (Number 2) which provides for stringent punishment of employers who exploit migrant workers including students.
It is equally important for the Advisory Service to work with property owners and ensure that international students are not disadvantaged by the increasing demand for rented accommodation and are treated with respect and compassion.
I am ready to provide the above services free of charge.
Dr Rakesh Shukla has academic qualifications from India and America with more than 30 years of experience. For the past five years, he has been recruiting international students and provides them with proper information, enabling them to pursue their education or part-time jobs with dignity and honour and protects them from exploitation. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Students in New Zealand
About 70,000 international students are granted permits to study in New Zealand each year, of which 75% are from Asia (predominantly, China, South Korea, and India). Internationally, Asian students comprise about half (47%) of all foreign students in OECD countries.
Over time, about 31% of fee-paying international students transition to work and/or permanent residence in New Zealand. About 20% of fee-paying international students gain permanent residence in New Zealand.
Students from India have the highest rate of transition to work (72%), followed by students from China (43%). Students from India also have the highest rate of transition to permanent residence (47%), followed by students from China (23%).
Students from India are more likely to transition to work and/or residence than students from China.
Students from both countries have higher rates of transition than students from other regions.
The main reasons for international students to choose New Zealand as their international destination are the quality and cost of education, opportunities to work after graduation and apply for residence.
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
New Zealand School of Education (Sponsor of the ‘Best Businesswoman of the Year’ Category of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2015) is home for a growing number of international students, a large number of them from India (Picture Courtesy: NZSE).