After three days on a hunger strike, without food or water, nine nursing students have won a meeting with the Nursing Council of New Zealand to discuss their registrations.
However, yesterday's meeting in Wellington was an unsuccessful one for the group.
Former Waiariki Institute of Technology international nursing student Hrishikesh Mangalap Kokkoban, 26, said they were given no valid options and were treated inhumanely.
"When we talked about apples they would talk about oranges. They kept changing the subject and didn't even ask us about our health.
"We are now seeking legal help and are considering calling off the hunger strike."
Fellow international nursing student Matthew Jose said if they were to starve any longer and die he doubted anyone would care. "We have no hope. They are not considering us as humans."
The group, which includes four Waiariki graduates, were protesting after the Nursing Council started declining their applications for nursing registrations from late last year.
The Nursing Council tightened their criteria after they reviewed an Indian diploma in November last year and found it was not up to New Zealand standard. They did the review to assist with the assessment of educational equivalence and the diploma was assessed as being at Level 5, not at the required Level 7.
Nursing Council chief executive Carolyn Reed said they met with the students yesterday to present all the options available to them.
She said these options included becoming an enrolled nurse, which is a lower qualification than a registered nurse, or retraining completely, meaning they would need to complete between 18 months and two years of additional study, costing tens of thousands of dollars.
"I believe what is stopping the students from taking the pathways offered is that they have an expectation that they will be registered in the 'registered nurse' scope of practice," Mrs Reed said.
"The Nursing Council's role is to protect public safety. All nurses registering in New Zealand, whether new graduates or overseas-registered nurses, are required to meet the same standard."
The students say they had no understanding they would be in this situation when they spent thousands of dollars to come to New Zealand. They believe something should be done to give them a better pathway into receiving their nursing registrations.
About 300 affected students and recent graduates from Waiariki are in the same predicament after studying the Graduate Certificate in Infection Prevention and Control course.
The Nursing Council and Qualifications Authority (NZQA) will meet with the rest of the affected Waiariki students today.
"The council has not yet had an opportunity to meet with this group so will listen to their questions and comments about the options they have been offered," Mrs Reed said.