School clo­sure blow for stu­dents

More than 100 in limbo after NZQA dereg­is­ters Re­gent for non-com­pli­ance

The New Zealand Herald - - News - Lin­coln Tan im­mi­gra­tion

As­tu­dent advocate wants more trans­parency around ed­u­ca­tion providers after the the clo­sure of a busi­ness school left more than 100 in­ter­na­tional learn­ers in limbo.

Auck­land’s Re­gent In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Group was shut down last month for re­peated non-com­pli­ance with ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards. 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 next Wed­nes­day 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 costs 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 the 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 Oc­to­ber 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.

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 deregistered

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 self­assess­ment.

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 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.

Photo / Ja­son Ox­en­ham

Re­gent student Fran­cis Mi­ra­sol, 22, may have to re-do a year’s worth of courses. Im­mi­gra­tion ad­viser Mari­cel Weischede (below) says providers should have to dis­play their reg­is­tra­tion sta­tus pub­licly.


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