3 May 2018

Overseas students finally get refunds from failed institute

6:39 pm on 3 May 2018

Some overseas students who paid thousands of dollars to a tertiary institute that closed down, have been fully refunded after its owner repaid the money.

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

New Zealand National College shut down several months ago and was deregistered by the Qualifications Authority in January after almost nine months of investigations into poor quality control.

A group of about 40 students were then told they could not be fully refunded because only $6000 for each student was put into a trust fund, administered by the Public Trust.

In some cases, students at the New Zealand National College in Auckland paid another $8000 for their courses.

But just this week students got news that the director of the college, Evan Wu, had paid back a large sum of money.

One student, Hyunjin Oh, who paid $9000, received her outstanding $3000 yesterday.

But she has given up studying here and has decided to leave the country.

"It's been a hard [path] for us," Ms Oh said.

"I'm kind of drained from the experience as well and don't want to go through it again."

She did not think she would ever come back as an overseas student.

She was glad she decided to fight to get her money back.

"Some of my classmates and some friends, they said it wasn't going to work because it was the government we were fighting," she said.

"[I thought] yeah, maybe, but it was worth a try."

Another student, Cora, who has now been repaid the full $14,000 she paid for the course, was surprised to see all the money in her bank account yesterday.

"I feel really happy because at first we [weren't sure] we were going to get our full refund," she said.

Immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont said it has been a win for a few, but many more had lost thousands.

"I would expect the number would be in the hundreds but most of the students were too scared to come forward and say anything," he said.

"There's only a very, very small group of brave students who came forward and actually spoke about it.

"Those are the ones who are lucky enough to have their refunds approved by the owner of the school."

Alastair McClymont did not know how much Mr Wu paid back to the trust.

The case highlighted serious gaps in the international student market in New Zealand, he said.

"We need to take some very drastic steps to look at the export education industry, look at the involvement of unlicensed education agents both here in New Zealand and overseas [and] have a very close look at the quality of education being provided to international students," he said.

In a statement, NZQA said it was unable to comment because the matter is still under active investigation but it continues to work with students to resolve the situation.

RNZ briefly spoke to Mr Wu but he declined to comment.