While the future of 150 Indian students facing imminent deportation threat, hang in balance, and students make a last-ditch effort today to make their voice heard to those who matter in the government, there is a need to look into what we believe are three good reasons, why this was a completely avoidable mess for New Zealand.
New Zealand's brand image as a favourable international education destination is at risk
Although it is a no brainer to pre-empt that anxiety generated around this whole issue of student deportation is affecting New Zealand's overall image as a favourable international education destination, yet it is a timely reminder to this government that New Zealand's hard-earned image as a favourable international education destination is at risk.
Lately, there have been too many investigative reports out in public to reveal that traditionally New Zealand has not been a first choice study destination for most Indian students. Countries like the US, UK, Canada and Australia are usually on the top of their wish list.
It is against this backdrop that Education New Zealand—New Zealand’s government agency for international education, has succeeded to gain a foothold and a major share in India's international student market, to the extent that there has been a 150 per cent increase in the number of Indian students enrolled to study here since the year 2010.
The current storm has a potential to jeopardise that hard-earned share in India's international student market as one important determinant, although not candidly acknowledged by many in the public, about Indian student's choices of foreign education destination is the prospect of getting a fair chance of seeking permanent residence through the skilled migration avenue.
This incidence of deportation of students even after completing 12 months of study in the country, and even worse without any payback from the education providers, could act as a big deterrent on choices of many future prospective students.
It does not remotely address any of the main issues plaguing international education industry
If the intention of this deportation verdict handed out to hapless international students is to convey New Zealand public that the National government is committed to addressing the fundamental flaws in the $3 billion international education industry, then it should be noted that New Zealand public is not going to be amused.
New Zealand's international education industry is bedevilled with rogue agents, immigration fraud, low-quality education providers, and not an unrelated outcome of a persistent shortage of right skilled workers, for the right industry.
Leaving aside so many weak links, education minister Steven Joyce choose to hit hard on the international students, a segment which is already in a foreign land, and most of the time, almost certainly after exhausting their family's entire financial resources, and now deprived of valid visas, are not even in a position to remain legitimately in this country to seek any possible legal help.
Minister Steven Joyce's statement that "ultimately, the responsibility is with the student," is an unfortunate acceptance of two disturbing facts about New Zealand's current system.
First, the current New Zealand government deems that there is no one else to share the blame and financial burden, of the alleged abuse of our immigration system.
Second, our immigration system is debauched to a level that more than 150, or possibly thousands of unsuspecting individual students, who have filed their respective visa papers from different visa centres, have successfully managed to sneak past through our systems in the first place.
This is certainly a disturbing inference for New Zealand's public from government's high-handed approach.
On the contrary, if we are to believe that our immigration system is working at a reasonable level of competence, if not at its possible best level, then this international student deportation issue could have been handled more humanely.
Retrospective judgement is not always a fair judgement
If we are to believe that our immigration system has definitely been compromised, even then a retrospective judgement of handing over a deportation verdict to the students, in some case who have almost finished their studies, is not a fair judgement.
It is not aligned with the best practices of justice.
In this case, what is at stake is New Zealand's credibility as a country that offers fair treatment to all, regardless of their country of origin.