Protest organised over Auckland University's termination of mentally ill student's enrolment

The young woman is organising a protest.
The young woman is organising a protest. Photo credit: Getty / File

This article deals with mental health problems, including attempted suicide.

A student who attempted to take her own life after an alleged rape and years of emotional manipulation will protest against the termination of her Auckland University enrolment.

The Chinese student, who Newshub has not named, had her enrolment terminated after the tertiary provider deemed her mental illness as a "breach of enrolment conditions". She had just one year left of her Bachelor of Health and Bachelor of Health Science conjoint. 

Now, the young woman is rallying for support as she prepares to protest against the university's decision in February - despite the university reiterating this month that the decision will not be reversed.

The 21-year-old told Newshub her troubles began when a man blackmailed her into having repeated sex with him, the trauma leading her to "attempt suicide many times" in a desperate bid to "finish" the abuse.

She withheld her mental illness from Auckland University staff, despite signing a document outlining strict enrolment conditions regarding the full disclosure of changes to her health. 

"I feel my situation is very private and I actually felt ashamed to talk to others," she said.

In October, the young woman was allegedly raped by another patient while in a mental health unit. She tried to take her life a month later.

She believes hospital staff informed the university of her "quite serious" attempt at suicide.

The student received a letter in December, signed by the university's deputy vice-chancellor Adrienne Clelan, saying the "change to the state" of her mental health had breached the conditions of her admission.

"It is clear that there has been a change to the state of your mental health ... and you did not promptly inform the International Office as you were required to do under your Enrolment Conditions," the letter said. 

"The University has cancelled your Student Agreement for your breach of enrolment conditions, thereby terminating your enrolment."

Two days later, she was informed by email that Immigration New Zealand (INZ) was cancelling her student visa. She was given five days to leave the country, which was eventually extended.

In correspondence dated January 10, the student requested to be informed of the procedures to challenge and review the cancellation of her enrolment. 

A spokesperson for the university told NZME that it responded by outlining NZQA and AUSA Advocacy Services as possible options to help appeal the termination.

However, she was told by the authority that it did not have power over the university's decision.

In a message to the student, NZQA said it was continuing to investigate if the university's decision was compliant with its code of practice - but clarified that regardless of the outcome, it doesn't have the "legal power" to request her re-enrolment.

The student says her life is miserable and her family is unable to continue paying for legal help to appeal the decisions of the university and INZ.

Although details regarding the student's protest remain unclear, she is planning to orchestrate the event during the university's orientation week in February. A Facebook page has been set up, with 13 people saying they will attend and 77 expressing interest.

An Auckland University spokesperson told Newshub it is aware of the protest.

"Students and staff are entitled to protest on campus, although we would hope they would not interfere with O Week activities," they said.

The alleged rape of the student is currently under police investigation. 

Where to find help and support: 

Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633

Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584