Crackdown on rogue education agents being considered


The Government is considering a crackdown on rogue education agents who are making money by luring overseas students to New Zealand.

It follows a Newshub investigation which raised concerns about fraudulent offshore advisors partnering with Kiwi schools.

Varun Manak's family forked out $20,000 to get him to New Zealand to study and work.

But more than six years into the IT specialist's time here, there's been plenty of disappointment.

He says an education agent he sought help from in India sold him fake promises and enrolled him in a course which was of little value.

"They gave me false information that you'll get an easy work permit and [that it's] easy to get permanent residency, but it's still not happened," says Mr Manak.

"They get a high amount of money as a commission from the colleges. They don't think about the future of a person. They think about the money."

Anna Casaje also relied on advice from her agents in the Philippines.

"I really feel misled by what the agency was telling us before -- that you can easily find a job here," says Ms Casaje.

Agents sourcing students for Kiwi training establishments overseas don't have to be qualified or licensed. They're exempt from the rules.

But the Government is now looking at changes. 

"It's very, very difficult to monitor compliance offshore, so on balance it's been decided we don't register them. But we are reviewing that Act now and this is part of the review," says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Newhub revealed this week Immigration New Zealand's office in Mumbai has had 369 cases of fraud in the past 16 weeks  many of them related to dodgy agents.

The Government has been aware of fraud issues in India for at least two years.

Newshub has been sent an email from a licensed immigration advisor who is based in India. He sent an email to Immigration New Zealand warning of the issues in May 2014. 

"This is something that the Government should have addressed years ago. People are being exploited and they only reason they've decided to pick it up now is because it has hit the media," says Labour's Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

The problem is, the sector makes billions for the economy. The Government is acutely aware of this and there is concern tweaking the rules could be damaging.

"I think it's too soon to say if there will be any changes," says Mr Woodhouse.

But Labour wants the rules changed for the sake of the country's reputation.

"I think all offshore agents should be licensed and I would be very surprised if any review didn't come to that conclusion," says Mr Lees-Galloway.

Migrants spoken to agree licensing would go some way to improving the Kiwi experience.