Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Fraud Investigation Underway Into Enrolments

Fraud Investigation Underway Into Student Enrolments At Tertiary Education Provider

Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey today announced an investigation is underway into possible misuse of the student loan scheme and the activities of a private education provider based in Taranaki.

“Nearly $10 million of tuition subsidies and more than $25 million of student loans may be involved.

“Earlier this year I directed three Government agencies, the Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Ministry of Social Development, to investigate the National Certificate in Travel offered extramurally by Practical Education Training Centre (PETC) in New Plymouth.

“The seriousness and complexity of this matter means all agencies have proceeded with caution to protect genuine students on the courses and PETC staff, and also to protect the crown from any legal challenge by PETC.

“Concerns about these two PETC courses have centred on the quality of the courses, a significant growth in student numbers in mid-2001, and the inclusion of a computer in the tuition fee. There have also been reports of these computers being on-sold to second hand dealers.

“It appears that a number of students, who had no intention of undertaking study, have enrolled in the travel courses at PETC to obtain a computer that is offered as part of the course. The computer’s cost is an optional part of the course fee that students pay for, usually with a student loan.



“Following an investigation in September 2001, the Ministry of Education has suspended PETC’s notice of entitlement so it would receive no further government funding while the investigation is underway. MSD’s Student Services has since August been deferring approval of student loan applications in relation to the two travel courses.

“MSD Student Services has begun investigating the magnitude and timing of possible misuse of the student loan scheme by students. The Ministry of Education is investigating the actions of the Centre.

“This investigation into students comes after reviews and audits by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Ministry of Education into PETC.

“NZQA audited PETC in June 2001 after Ministry of Education concerns at the poor results of PETC travel course participants in 2000, and spectacular growth in 2001. NZQA’s audit revealed serious quality issues that are now being addressed by PETC. While NZQA is now satisfied with the quality of the courses, it is reviewing their registration in the light of the Ministry of Education investigation.

“In September 2001, the Ministry of Education reviewed PETC following another large increase in student enrolments, on-going quality assurance issues, including continuing poor student educational outcomes.

“Information obtained during that review confirmed that as many 2000, out of the 4000 enrolled students had failed to obtain any unit standards. Most of those had failed to submit any work. The review also revealed that in over 700 cases, more than one member of a household was enrolling in the course, and multiple computers were being sent to the same house, although access to a computer is required for only one of the 14 unit standards.

“In one case, 5 members of a household had enrolled, meaning that there were 5 computers in that household. Over 150 students, most of whom had achieved no unit standards, had “gone no address”.

“Since October 2001, the Ministry of Education has sought advice from the Serious Fraud Office and Crown Law Office in relation to taking possible action. Both advised that further investigation is warranted. MSD Student Services expect to know by the end of this month, the numbers of individual students requiring investigation.

“The Government views any misuse of the student loan scheme extremely seriously. The student loan scheme is designed to be as open and accessible as possible and it is a shame that some students and providers are possibly taking advantage of this.

“It needs to be remembered that the student loans are just that, and individuals have debts established against their names so any money identified as having been obtained fraudulently will be recoverable.

“The case has demonstrated a number of loopholes that have been addressed as part of the new interim funding policy for 2002 aimed at improving use of public funding for tertiary education, improving the retention and completion rates for students enrolled in publicly funded courses of study, and better monitoring systems for tertiary providers,” concluded Steve Maharey.

PETC students concerned at what this means for their loans can call MSD Student Services on 0508 885 885.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Reform

To ordinary wage and salary earners who (a) watch a slice of their gross income being taxed every week via PAYE and who also (b) pay GST on every single thing they buy, there has been something quite surreal about the centre-right’s angry and anguished reactions to the Tax Working Group’s final report... More>>

 
 

89 Cents An Hour: Govt Plans Fix For Minimum Wage For People With Disabilities

IHC is delighted that the Government is looking into replacing the Minimum Wage Exemption (MWE) with a wage supplement to ensure people with disabilities are paid at least the minimum wage. More>>

ALSO:

Te Waihanga: New Independent Commission To Tackle Infrastructure Issues

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga – will be established as an Autonomous Crown Entity to carry out two broad functions – strategy and planning and procurement and delivery support. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Action Against Poverty: Motels Profit From Housing Crisis

A single motel which charges up to $1,500 per week per room has received over $3 million worth of Government funds to provide emergency assistance, despite never having a Code Compliance Certificate – an offence under the Building Act – and receiving a series of longstanding complaints from occupants... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Alleged China Relations Crisis

If New Zealand’s relations with China are ‘deteriorating’ then you still need a microscope to detect the signs... More>>

ALSO:

Environment: Government To End Tenure Review

“Tenure review has resulted in parcels of land being added to the conservation estate, but it has also resulted in more intensive farming and subdivision on the 353,000 ha of land which has been freeholded. This contributed to major landscape change and loss of habitat for native plants and animals,” said Eugenie Sage. More>>

ALSO:

Bell Tolls: Big Changes, Grand Mergers Planned For Vocational Training

“At a time when we’re facing critical skill shortages, too many of our polytechnics and institutes of technology are going broke... More>>

ALSO:

Sallies' State Of The Nation: Progress Stalled In Reducing Inequality

The report shows a lack of tangible progress in key areas including record levels of household debt and a growing gap in educational achievement between poorer and more well off communities. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels