Five schools targeted in crackdown

By Andrew Laxon

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Five schools taking hundreds of overseas students a year have been placed under strict controls for a range of alleged offences, including widespread student cheating and reporting untrustworthy results.

The crackdown has prompted Opposition claims that New Zealand's $2.3 billion a year export education trade is at risk but the Government says it shows its tougher policies are starting to work.

The new wave of problems at schools for foreign students follows a string of high-profile failures in the past few years and confirmation from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority last October that it had 26 private training establishments (PTEs) under investigation.

In some of the recent cases:

* NZQA has blocked all new enrolments at Ellipse Institute after reviewers reported concerns that their results may not be genuine.

* NZQA has given a no-confidence rating to Oxford International Academy because of its history of excessive plagiarism, poor attendance and low course-completion rates.

* Immigration New Zealand has stopped two other schools, Victoria Institute and Tasman International Academies, from enrolling students in new business and IT courses because of NZQA concerns over their educational standards.

Reviewers said Ellipse used a beauty tutor to teach healthcare students anatomy for elderly patients in rest homes and switched computing students into a higher level course, which they were highly likely to fail, when the school failed to get approval for the course the students wanted to study.

Labour's tertiary education spokesman Grant Robertson said he believed stronger regulation was still necessary, despite the Government's decision last year to give stronger powers to NZQA and tighten the rules for student migrants.

"The longer this kind of breaking the rules goes on, the more damage it will do to our reputation, so I do think a speedy resolution is necessary. If NZQA doesn't have the resources, we need to look at other ways.

"I would hate to think this will go on for a long period of time, damaging our reputation internationally."

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said Mr Robertson had "completely missed the boat" as the Government had decided three years ago to tighten the industry and get rid of schools flouting the rules.

"NZQA had in 2007 zero compliance actions.

"In 2011 there were 152 - which is not an indication that people are behaving more badly but certainly an indication that they're much better monitored than they were back in 2007."

He said the Government's goal of doubling the value of the export education industry to $5 billion a year remained realistic as the changes were gradually lifting the bar for the whole industry, ensuring quality and growth.

- NZ Herald

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