New Zealand's immigration laws must be changed to stop overseas students from being exploited by unscrupulous employers and overseas unlicensed agents, immigration specialists say.

The exploitation of students would often start in their home country, New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment chairwoman June Ranson said.

"They are being enticed to study in New Zealand with false promises of developing their career in this country and gaining New Zealand residence."

In 2008 the Government introduced licensing of immigration advisers, which meant that any person giving immigration advice about New Zealand must be licensed or have an exemption, she said.

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In May 2010 an exemption was granted to offshore people to become Student Agents.

This exemption was quickly picked up on by self-appointed agents, who negotiated arrangements with New Zealand education institutions and introduced prospective students, Ms Ranson said.

"The people overseas who are providing guidance and organising their student visas for New Zealand are not necessarily qualified to do so.

"They are enticing students to enrol in low-level management courses in New Zealand without a thought for the likelihood of them getting work once they have completed the course, and building expectations that the student will be eligible to apply for residence after study."

The Government announced last year its initiatives to encourage further growth in New Zealand's $2.6 billion international education sector - the second major revenue earner for New Zealand.

India was New Zealand's biggest growth market for students, Ms Ranson said.

"These students and their families sacrifice everything to come and study in New Zealand. Many of the students already hold Bachelor degrees or some other sort of degree gained at highly reputable universities.

"One would have to question why they are being strongly encouraged by these agents to come and study low-level business qualifications. We believe it is a quick, money-making opportunity for agents who have no responsibility for what happens to these students."

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They would have a far better chance of gaining permanent residence in New Zealand if they were given guidance about courses that would better suit their circumstances such as post-graduate studies in the area of their studies back home, she said.