16 May 2017

Private tertiary institution closed after widespread plagiarism

3:20 pm on 16 May 2017

Widespead plagiarism and overcrowding has forced the closure of a private tertiary institution that once had 1000 foreign students enrolled.

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The New Zealand Qualifications Authority said some Linguis academic staff seemed unclear about what constituted plagiarism. Photo: 123RF

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) said it has cancelled Linguis International Institute's registration because of serious concerns about educational performance and compliance with NZQA rules.

It comes after several private training institutes have been shuttered.

In January, the Qualifications Authority deregistered Aotearoa Tertiary Institute, an Auckland company which had 200 foreign students enrolled.

And late last year another Auckland institution, IANZ, was sold after the Qualifications Authority warned it was at risk of deregistration because of evidence of dishonesty as well as poor governance and management.

In the authority's most recent audit of Linguis it downgraded the institution's quality rating to the lowest possible level, category 4, preventing it from enrolling further foreign students.

It has since been deregistered.

The audit, dated November last year, was based on NZQA visits to Linguis in 2015 and concluded that NZQA was not confident in Linguis' educational performance.

It described problems with marking, students' poor English-language skills and widespread evidence of high rates of plagiarism.

"The scale of this plagiarism brings into question the reliability of the reported figures on educational achievement, and the processes leading to them.

"Some Linguis academic staff seemed unclear about what constitutes plagiarism, which in itself is likely to limit Linguis' ability to resolve the problem fully and satisfactorily."

NZQA's report said the plagiarism cast doubt over the institute's qualification completion rates, which ranged from 89 to 97 percent.

The report said Linguis had about 1000 mostly Indian and Chinese students enrolled in business courses in 2015 and had expanded rapidly from just 158 students in 2012.

The growth was not well managed and overcrowding had affected staff and students' well-being, the audit said.

It said plans the institute had put in place to remedy its shortcomings had not led to demonstrable improvements.

NZQA said Linguis now has 81 students in two campuses in Auckland and Christchurch.

Immigration New Zealand figures show Linguis had one of the highest rates of refusal for study visa applications to its office in Mumbai, India, in the first half of last year, with 76 percent of its 90 applications declined in that time.

NZQA deputy chief executive of quality assurance Grant Klinkum said the organisation would not tolerate poor quality education.

"Where providers are not meeting the standards we expect of them, we take action to ensure system integrity," he said.

Dr Klinkum said NZQA was working to transfer the remaining Linguis students to other tertiary education organisations.

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