Warning: Distressing content.
An international student who was kicked out of the University of Auckland after she attempted suicide following an alleged rape says she will fight to keep her place at the university.
The student, who cannot be named, came to New Zealand in 2015 and was in her fourth year pursuing a double degree in health science and science.
She was admitted to a mental health unit in October 2019 where she was allegedly raped, following which she then attempted suicide.
In December, she was told by the vice-chancellor that her enrolment was terminated because she "did not promptly inform the International Office" about the change of her mental health.
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The student, who had earlier told the Herald she wanted out because she found the university environment "too toxic", said has had a change of heart after discussions with her family.
"My family wants me to just finish my final year and get the degree. It is very difficult for us to transfer (to another overseas university) as it will cost more time and money," she said.
"They have asked me to be more realistic. My primary goal is to continue to study at the University of Auckland."
She has lodged an appeal against her termination but says she has not heard back from the university.
The Auckland University Students Association has written an open letter urging the university to consider the student's appeal and review policies that led to her termination.
The association claimed the university made the student sign an agreement in July 2016 requiring her to "promptly inform the University of any changes to the state of her mental health" and that if she did not, then it could choose to cancel her enrolment.
The letter has been shared on social media, and sent also to the Vice Chancellor, Minister of Education and Minister of Immigration.
A university spokeswoman said it would not be making any further comment on the matter at this stage.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said the university "will not and must not breach our duty of confidentiality to our students, regardless of whether details of this issue have been shared elsewhere".
"We therefore cannot enter into a conversation with members of the media or social media community or respond to speculation. Our correspondence with the student remains in strictest confidence," he said.
"The decision to terminate her enrolment was not taken lightly. It was based on explicit, recent advice from her own medical team who advised that the student was at high risk if she continued to study in New Zealand."
McCutcheon said its assessment followed meetings and conversations with the student's medical team and family.
"Exceptional circumstances meant we could not continue to meet our obligations to her under the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016," he said.
"The Open Letter raises a number of important points, and we will be addressing those with the student herself, in confidence."
Meanwhile, the national association for international education professionals Isana said it was concerned with the lack of support services for international students.
In a statement, the association said there was an urgent need for "well-resourced support services".
"International students have specific academic, social, economic and cultural needs," it said.
"Isana members are concerned that while NZ institutions continue to accept increasing numbers of international students, the support services for these students remain inadequate."
The association said its members faced poor resourcing and training while having to manage heavy workloads.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or online chat.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
• SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.