Unitec cheats damage NZ's reputation - Labour

Unitec website (Newshub.)
Unitec website (Newshub.)

Labour has denied it's pulling the race card by calling for an investigation into the passing of six cheating Saudi Arabian Unitec students.

An engineering lecturer reportedly resigned in protest after six students from the country were allowed to pass, despite cheating in their final test. The tertiary education union claims there is too much pressure to pass high-paying international pupils.

Unitec says the students were treated the same as any other Kiwi students would have been in the same situation, but Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins isn't buying that.

"If they are handling the situation the same as they would handle any other case, then I've got concerns about their processes because students who are caught cheating shouldn't be allowed to get away with that."

Chris Hipkins (Simon Wong/Newshub.)
Chris Hipkins (Simon Wong/Newshub.)

Unitec chief executive Dr Rick Ede says the only reason the issue is controversial is because the students are Saudi Arabian.

"The lecturer actually left Unitec before the results of the investigation were known and before the investigator made his decision.

"The students' backgrounds, identities, and the country they came from, have no bearing whatsoever on any decision taken."

Mr Hipkins denies the party is playing to anti-immigrant sentiment by calling for an investigation.

"I don't think it's a question of where the students came from. I think the institution needs to have a very low level of tolerance when it comes to student teaching, regardless of their country of origin."

He says tertiary institutions need to set very high standards.

"If they don't, that's going to have a flow-on effect to the whole international education sector in New Zealand. It will damage our reputation internationally, it will make it harder to recruit other international students."