Indian students staging Auckland protest
NZ First has called for a review of the foreign student industry as 150 Indian students face deportation because their India-based agents used fake financial documents to get them visas to study in New Zealand.
About 80 sign-carrying protesters marched on the office of National list MP Parmjeet Parmar in Mt Roskill on Saturday, calling for her to intervene as a representative of the Indian community.
The organisers say the students didn't know fake documents were used in their visa applications and now - facing deportation without refunds for tens of thousands of dollars of fees - are the real victims.
They want the Government to allow them to finish their courses.
NZ First leader Winston Peters on Saturday morning also called for the Government to let the students stay, saying there was a serious problem with fraud in the booming foreign education system.
"We have to rescue this country's reputation of dealing with people, regardless of where they come from, fairly. It's about equality and what a decent society would do," he told The Nation.
NZ First has called for an independent investigation into education export fraud and says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce should resign.
"An alarming percentage of New Zealand's $3 billion international student industry is nothing more than a giant-sized racket with the main incentive for the students being to get permanent residency here," Mr Peters said.
"The commissions paid by these education providers to agents tempted them to falsify documents to get as many students to NZ as possible."
But Mr Joyce denied there was a problem with the system and said the students were responsible to make their application properly.
"They have to make a declaration that all the information they supply to New Zealand is correct," he told The Nation.
"We obviously want the agents to behave themselves well and we know some agents haven't been behaving themselves. So we've tightened up the rules recently. We've put in new requirements in the code of practices that providers must be accountable to their agents' behaviour."
He said the problems faced by New Zealand agencies in India were similar to other countries.
Asked if an exception could be made for the students, he said officials had to be consistent for the integrity of New Zealand's system.
About 22,000 students from India study in New Zealand each year.
The students who face deportation say they paid tens of thousands of dollars to education providers in New Zealand who worked with the recruiters in India.
They have been told they couldn't have refunds if they were sent home.
They also say that, although the names of the agents have been given to Immigration NZ, the agents haven't been held accountable and neither have the colleges where the students studied.