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Caveat emptor no more - private tertiary students

12 September 2000 Media Statement

Caveat emptor no more for private tertiary students


Students studying at private training establishments (PTEs) will be able to get their fees back, or an equivalent course provided, should their provider close or be deregistered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey addressed the annual conference of the New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers in Wellington this morning. Several recent high profile examples of financial failure or NZQA deregistration have shown that students are vulnerable in cases where closure happens part way through their course. Students may have nothing to show for the course fees they have paid, no prospect of any fee refund, and may be unable to access their academic records to gain credit for work completed.

From 31 January 2001, the effective beginning of the 2001 academic year, NZQA will introduce a new registration requirement on PTEs to include proof of adequate protection of student fees in the event of closure. Providers will be required to either arrange fee protection insurance or enter into mutual support arrangements with other PTEs.

"Students committing to a course of study need to know that they are protected in the event that their education provider ceases operating.

"National made it clear to PTE students that they were in a 'buyer beware' situation. The new Government totally rejects that approach. The situation, for example, that students at the now-closed Te Tumu Wananga and Creative Learning Environments found themselves in was untenable.

"Education must be centred on the learner and this Government has made it clear that we see it as NZQA's role to protect the learner. Fee protection insurance, or an equivalent mutual support arrangement, will give students the effective redress they have lacked to date.

"The majority of Government-funded PTEs already have some sort of fee protection arrangements in place. Their reputations have been unfairly affected by the collapses of the few providers who failed to protect their students. This new measure will address also those concerns," Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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