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Legislation to tackle dishonest providers

Private Training Establishments (PTEs) involved in the export education sector will come under greater scrutiny including how they receive and manage their funds, if Parliament approves a new legislation next year.

The Cabinet has reportedly approved the Education Amendment Bill (No 4), allowing Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce to take it to the Debating Chamber in 2011.

Mr Joyce said the changes were aimed at providing the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) sufficient powers to “motivate, investigate and enforce compliance procedures,” improve the quality of the PTEs and make them more transparent and accountable.

“Legislation around PTE registration has not kept up with the changes and growth in the sector over the past 20 years,” he said.

Indian Newslink understands that the failure of some PTEs in recent years prompted the Government to draft the new legislation.

Mr Joyce would also have considered the problems relating to many international students dropping out of the courses for which they were granted student permits in favour of either employment or cheaper courses offered by institutions other than the ones to which they were initially enrolled.

The proposed legislation will also be financially beneficial to PTEs.

It will allow them to retain a larger percentage of the fees while refunding international students who withdraw from a course of longer than three months or switch over to another PTE.

Mr Joyce said the new Bill will remove the financial incentive for students to downgrade their courses once onshore and change to other providers who provide much cheaper courses, which may be of lower quality.

“It also ensures private training establishments aren’t penalised for investing in overseas recruitment.

“The current measures available for managing performance in this sector are insufficient in today’s conditions,” he said.

According to him, inadequacies and ambiguities in the existing law prevented NZQA from driving under-performing PTEs to improve their quality.

“While a majority of providers are doing a good job, there have been incidents involving dishonest practices in some PTEs. It is important that steps are taken to ensure such practices are not allowed to continue,” he said.

Mr Joyce claimed that the new legislation will improve the quality of courses, teaching and learning in PTEs, enhance New Zealand’s image in export education and encourage more international students to come to New Zealand to study.

“The increased investment in the sector, and its growing economic value to New Zealand, increases the importance of a clear and effective regulatory regime.

“International education contributes more than $2 billion to our economy each year,” he said.

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