International students left out of pocket

By Andrew Laxon

Students (from left) Josalin Devi, Zaina Nisha, and Umesh Sami outside the now-closed Ellipse Institute. Photo / Dean Purcell
Students (from left) Josalin Devi, Zaina Nisha, and Umesh Sami outside the now-closed Ellipse Institute. Photo / Dean Purcell

A group of international students have been caught in the legal crossfire after the sudden closure of a private training school.

Josalin Devi, 21, Zaina Nisha, 19 and Umesh Sami, 25, from Fiji were studying business and management diplomas at Ellipse Institute, which was closed in June by the NZ Qualifications Authority for failingto keep students' money in a trust account.

The three students have found new schools but say they have been unable to get their money back from the Public Trust to pay for their courses because of a court battle between NZQA and Ellipse's owner, Bhashkar Prasad.

Josalin Devi said the school's former insurer StudentCare told her the money would not be released until the students' work at Ellipse was formally recorded.

NZQA staff told her Mr Prasad, who is suing the Government agency over the closure, was refusing to release the paperwork, but Mr Prasad said he did not have the course work and blamed NZQA.

She and other students could not graduate from their new schools until they paid for their courses and their visas were due to run out in the next few months.

"We want our results as soon as possible because our visas are running out and we can't afford to pay for the whole thing all over again.

"It was not our fault that we went to the wrong school. NZQA was running it - it was registered with NZQA and legally running."

She said NZQA staff told her Ellipse had had problems since 2009, which made her wonder why they did not take action against it sooner.

Zaina Nisha said she had paid $11,500 for her diploma of business course, which was to have finished in October, a month before her visa ran out.

Mr Prasad said he did not have the students' papers because NZQA staff seized everything when they closed the school and did not leave an inventory of what they had taken.

"I'm really sorry for the students. Our international students are just left high and dry. They'll lose their visa, they'll lose the money they've paid in here."

NZQA deputy chief executive Tim Fowler said the agency had been contacted by 25 Ellipse students affected by the problem.

He said NZQA took about five boxes of records from Ellipse.

These were mostly attendance and administrative records, which had been catalogued and returned.

"NZQA does not currently hold any Ellipse records and has not at any stage had any academic records."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 26 Dec 2014 11:17:38 Processing Time: 478ms