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Of tertiary agents, rorts and Ministerial spin

Trouble within the tertiary education sector continues to brew despite Minister Steven Joyce's attempts to push allegations of corruption or malpractice under the rug.

Potential mismanagement and fraud appear to be rife among private training establishments (PTEs) and the Minister continues to turn a blind eye.  

The most recent victims of New Zealand’s PTEs are Indian students who face deportations as a result of dodgy practices within the sector. Many New Zealand students have also been affected by the alleged rorting habits of PTEs as institutions have inflated student numbers or failed to deliver prescribed courses in full. Where the authorities finally catch up and demand a refund of grants to the Crown, this can leave students in debt and without adequate training.

The litany of disasters is now a National hall of shame - Taratahi, Agribusiness Training Limited, Intueri/Quantum and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi have all been the subject of attention from authorities and the media.

In many cases, the National Government sat on its hands until Labour turned the blowtorch on the Minister or whistle-blowers risked their own livelihoods to come forward.

Part of the problem lies within the lack of transparency from the minister, Steven Joyce. Over the weekend, Joyce acknowledged on The Nation that 11 private training establishments (PTEs) were under investigation for rorts. But written answers to Labour's questions from his office show that at least 19 tertiary institutions are in the gun. This discrepancy is indicative of the Minister’s habit of fudging the details to try to diminish the scale of the problem.

What is clear is that the problems in the sector are wider than Stephen Joyce has so far admitted publicly.

Labour is challenging the Minister to name all 19 institutions and their status so that students nationwide do not have to live in a climate of fear that their investment of time and resources will be worthless. 

The truth is, National has been negligent while the taxpayer has been ripped off and tertiary students have lost their fees and had their futures put at risk. This lack of concern is putting our reputation as nation that prides itself in quality education.

Domestic and international students alike continue to pay the costly price of National's shoddy system that puts quick cash ahead of New Zealand’s educational reputation and student welfare.