Student victims deserve equal opportunity to learn

International students from India are in the news again.

A small number of them (some say 150, while officials say no more than 41) are facing deportation as it has emerged that they submitted faked documents, thereby undermining the high standards that are required to seek admission in our Universities and Private Training Establishments (PTEs).

The students blame their agents back home in India whereas Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has said that the ultimate responsibility rests with the students and that they should not only know the type of documents that they have submitted (or allowed their agents to submit) and whether their qualifications and achievements have been overstated.

Ugly turn

While the government may have the right to ask the students to return to their home country, it should also understand the plight of these students, many of who would have incurred substantial debts to be here to pursue their higher education.

The young men and women protesting in front of the offices of National MPs and at public events does not bode well for New Zealand, which is known for its fairness and as a country that provides equal opportunity for all.

In that spirit, it would perhaps be wiser to allow the affected students to complete their studies in the first instance and then allow them to pursue their careers if their skills are required here.

Foreign study took off in the 1980s, when several rich countries started to offer large numbers of scholarships as part of their aid programmes. Rising incomes in poorer countries added a financial motive.

But not every country lucky enough to have lots of foreign students is doing what is needed to keep them coming.

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