International students stranded, asked to pay for new visas as education provider goes bust
Kiwi Institute of Training and Education (KITE) has gone into liquidation, leaving about 200 students, many of them Indian, in tears and unsure of their future as they fear they may lose both time and thousands of dollars.
The private business institute’s collapse in New Zealand has left more than 200 international students in the lurch, with students now claiming that neither the education provider nor the regulator, New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) are coming to their rescue.
NZQA claims that the Kiwi Institute of Training and Education known as KITE had requested them to cancel their registration as a private training establishment, as a result of which it was put into liquidation, earlier this month.
Karambir Singh, an Indian student from Kapurthala who is awaiting his level 6 business diploma results told SBS Punjabi that their problems began in October 2018, when the institute came under the scanner of the qualifying authority over its “assessment practices.”
“It all began last year when conditions were imposed on KITE’s marking and teaching standards and when they couldn’t handle the subsequent inquiry, they took the easy way out and filed for liquidation,” said the 25-year-old student who is determined not to let KITE get away with this ‘farce’.
Mr. Singh said that the NZQA has given the affected students several options to complete their qualifications in a meeting that has fostered more uncertainty rather than resting their fears.
“It is completely heartbreaking. No one is offering a foolproof solution. The NZQA has told us that it will take up to three weeks to examine our submissions and declare the results. If we pass, we’d get our diplomas and we’d be able to apply for a work visa as planned.
“But if NZQA decides that we’ve failed as per their marking standards, they’d refund our fees and we’ll have to enroll with another provider, which is completely unacceptable,” added Mr. Singh.
Another option that has been tabled for students stranded on unfinished courses is to transfer to another institute. But to do this, students will have to fork out an extra $350 to apply for a new visa, on top of losing thousands of dollars they have already spent.
“I come from a middle-class family and like me, many of the other students also cannot afford to spend more money or time. And on top, where is the guarantee that this new institute will not go defunct on us,” said Mr Singh.
‘Money wouldn’t solve the problem’
Sher Singh, a volunteer with Migrant Workers Association who is helping the affected students in reaching out to the NZQA told SBS Punjabi that private institutes like KITE were set-up in the country to mint money from foreign students.
“Institutes like KITE are extensively scamming innocent international students who believe they are coming to New Zealand for a better life, but for providers like KITE, they’re nothing short of cash cows,” said Mr. Singh.
Many of the affected students across the institute’s campuses in Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton claim they have spent years and nearly $40,000 on an education that may now be inadmissible.
“We want NZQA to find a better solution to end the ongoing crisis for the students because a fee refund does not solve their problem, it rather aggravates it. What we want is compensation for their time and effort. How do they plan to refund that? Money alone wouldn’t solve the problem’ ” said Mr. Singh.
In its defence, the qualification watchdog has said the welfare of the students is their top priority.
"We appreciate this is a difficult time for the affected students and our priority is to support them as much as possible. We are committed to working with students over the coming weeks to provide whatever practical support we can,” NZQA said in a statement.
‘Debt without a degree’
R Saini, an Auckland-based immigration agent said the most disturbing part of the trend is that many affected students may give up on college education altogether, and may eventually face deportation.
“The reality is that if their credits are not found to be up to the mark, many of them who are waiting for their results will have to start over. It’s the worst-case scenario where you have debt, but no degree.
“And no degree would mean the deportation of many dreams,” said Mr Saini.
SBS Punjabi understands that the affected students are drafting a letter enlisting their demands to be sent out to Immigration New Zealand and NZQA.
“We’re hoping we’d get to hear some good news in the coming days,” said Karambir Singh.