An investigation has been launched into Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre near Carterton in the wake of probes that exposed almost $10 million in misappropriated tertiary funding at other institutions.
A spokeswoman for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce confirmed the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) had launched an inquiry "looking at the delivery of and processes and procedures for programmes at the institution".
The investigation was launched after a member of the public complained and was "the first time the institution has been reviewed in this manner, over and above TEC's regular monitoring procedures".
The spokeswoman said independent auditor Deloitte was investigating the centre but she couldn't say when the probe would be completed.
Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre board chairman David Nelson said the centre was working with the TEC. He declined to comment further until the investigation was completed.
"Once inquiries have concluded we will be in a position to provide a full update," Mr Nelson said.
The probe that has already uncovered nearly $10 million in misappropriated tertiary funding is to be expanded to include a dozen suspect programmes around the country.
Mr Joyce yesterday confirmed a dozen "targeted" investigations were planned of tertiary institutions after the conclusion of two probes and the launch of three other inquiries, which included the TEC review at Taratahi.
The TEC had contracted forensic accountants to conduct the initial investigations of Te Whare Wananga O Awanuiarangi, Whakatane, and Western Institute of Technology, New Plymouth, that led to the repayment of $9.6 million in taxpayer funding, multiple resignations and at least one referral to the Serious Fraud Office, according to a New Zealand Herald report.
The earlier investigations had revealed several rorts including students "completing" an 18-week course in just one day; event volunteers being unwittingly enrolled in courses and receiving qualifications; mass enrolments of students whose identity and domestic status could not be verified; teaching hours falling far short of funded levels; and tutors enrolled as students in courses they were teaching.
The completed investigations were launched after some students lodged anonymous complaints.
The expansion of the investigation did not necessarily indicate a widespread problem in the sector, Mr Joyce said, and the targeted reviews were a prudent response by TEC officials in light of the earlier findings.