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Greater accountability in international education

Hon Steven Joyce

Minister for Tertiary Education

17 November 2010

Media Statement

Greater accountability in international education

Changes to the oversight of private training establishments (PTEs) involved in export education will result in greater accountability and higher standards in the export education sector, says Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce.

Cabinet has approved a number of measures which will be included in the Education Amendment Bill (no. 4). The changes are designed to more speedily address issues in the private export education sector as they arise.

The changes are designed to:
• Give NZQA stronger powers to monitor, investigate and enforce the compliance of PTEs.
• Raise the threshold for PTE registration to ensure transparency and appropriate quality of PTEs when they are registered.

A further change which will allow PTEs to retain a greater proportion of fees when refunding international students who withdraw from a course of longer than three months or change provider consequently will be made as a result of a separate piece of legislation which is currently before Parliament.

Mr Joyce says this 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.

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He says legislation around PTE registration has not kept up with the changes and growth in the sector over the past 20 years.

“The current measures available for managing performance in this sector are insufficient in today’s conditions. NZQA’s work to drive improvements in the lowest performing PTEs is currently hampered by the outdated nature of the legislative provisions and inconsistencies within them.

“While the vast 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.

“These changes will further increase the confidence of international students in the quality and strength of New Zealand’s private education system and its protection of students’ interests.

“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 in total to our economy each year - further development of the sector will bring real benefits in terms of economic growth plus additional income to allow our tertiary institutions to grow.

“It’s vital that we keep working on enhancing the quality of the sector so New Zealand remains an attractive place to study.”

The legislation will be introduced to Parliament early next year.

ENDS

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