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Call for transparency after business is shut down for non-compliance

Immigration adviser Maricel Weischede, who is acting for several students, is calling for rules to compel education providers to be more transparent with students about their registration status.


Francis Mirasol, Photo / Jason Oxenham.


8 November, 2018

A call is being made for greater transparency on education providers' registration status after the closure of an international business school left more than 100 international students in limbo.

Auckland's Regent International Education Group was shut down by the authority for repeated non-compliance last month, and students who fail to find alternative providers could face deportation.

Immigration adviser Maricel Weischede, who is acting for several students, is calling for rules to compel education providers to be more transparent with students about their registration status.

"The education providers would have been notified in advance of issues such as non-compliance or closures, and it should be made a rule that they have to give the students notice and appropriate time to act," Weischede said.

Affected students from India, the Philippines, China and Japan have been given until Wednesday Nov 13 by Immigration NZ to find an alternative education provider, or leave New Zealand.

Students have also been told they are not able to cross credit and will have to start their courses all over again with their new provider.

"It is daunting that the students need to study the entire qualification again through no fault of theirs," said Weischede.

"They have to spend money on living cost and an entire year studying again instead of graduating, so they have wasted a whole year."

Weischede said if restaurants had to display their Auckland Council food grades, education providers on NZQA watchlist should also be made to put up some sort of warning notice on their premises.

Francis Mirasol, 22, was to have finished his agri-business management course last month and was waiting for his last paper to be graded by his tutor when he was informed of the school's closure on Oct 14.

Mirasol, who paid $12,000 in fees, said he felt "really upset" when he was told about the closure.

"I am hopeful to get back a refund for the fees, but it is still one year of my life that is gone that I cannot get back," he said.

Mirasol said he came with dreams of finding work after graduating and eventually settling in New Zealand.

"This has just turned my life and plans upside down," he said.

NZQA Deputy Chief Executive Quality Assurance Division, Dr Grant Klinkum. Photo / File

Dr Grant Klinkum, NZQA deputy chief executive quality assurance, said the students were being supported by the authority at this time.

"These students are still in the process of deciding what they would like to do and have been well informed during every step of the process," he said.

Klinkum said the authority took the step to deregister Regent following serious and ongoing concerns about its performance, demonstrated in its external evaluation and review outcomes, moderation history and failure to comply with the authority's requirements.

The school was banned from enrolling new students by the authority in August after an audit in July found little improvement on issues identified in 2015.

Poor English and plagiarism in students' work were found by the authority, and although Regent's assessment practices had improved, they were not to the extent expected.

As many as 70 per cent of Regent's Indian students, enrolled though education agents, failed to get their visas approved.

In its most recent External Evaluation and Review (EER) published on July 3, Regent was given a category 3 - meaning the authority was not yet confident in its performance or capability in self-assessment.

Klinkum said the list of NZQA's statutory actions and EER outcomes were public information and available on the authority's website.

Regent's director Leo Lee said he disputed NZQA's process and decision to cancel the school's registration.

An NZQA moderator had found that out of 131 assignments being given a passing grade, 18 should have been marked as failed.

"My view of that it is just one opinion against another, one assessor's standard may differ to another," Lee said.

Lee said the school was a victim of a "political game" and the NZQA's "opinion", and had previously conducted an independent review to fight its case with the authority without success.

Lee said he was still looking at a possible appeal or legal recourse.



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