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Documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA) have revealed that some international student graduates are being let down by the policies of education agents and private training providers.
66 Indian graduates, who were interviewed in their application to study bachelor-level programmes at private tertiary education providers, were interviewed again during the ‘Operation Shakespeare’ investigation. Four had scant knowledge regarding their course, three could not name any subjects, and two required a translator to complete the interview.
Lawyer Alastair McClymont said to Salient that this was due to education agencies submitting fraudulent visa applications, where agents created cellphone numbers and email addresses allowing staff to take application interviews instead of the students.
The agency would receive a commission for each successful student visa application.
McClymont said that while Immigration New Zealand appear to have been “looking at it as an issue in the last year,” it is “something which has been obvious […] to pretty much every single person working in the industry for a long time.”
The situation calls into question the support and assistance provided to international students seeking to study in New Zealand, just months after the high-profile case of nine Indian international students who were deported after being defrauded by education agents submitting false bank loan approval documents.
McClymont said “there’s no real incentive for [the education providers] to have a long-term business plan,” because “they can make so much money so quickly, that if they can just survive in the market for five years before their [institution] gets closed down, they’ll be retiring as millionaires.”
Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford said that VUW is “in a much better situation [than private tertiary education providers] — we have a high standard of pastoral care and high minimum academic standards, so when we get international students into the university sector, we are certain they are people of high academic merit.”
McClymont said the main source of the problem is that government policy is “just driven by the need to make as much money as possible,” reporting that some graduates were employed in hospitality or horticulture, without adequately understand their employment rights.
Education New Zealand’s website says India offers “significant opportunities” for New Zealand providers as “students actively seek opportunities not offered in India, and India’s industry calls for work-ready graduates.”