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New Zealand Education Representatives in India replaces disbanded program

A not-for-profit agent association specialising in recruiting students wishing to study in New Zealand has launched.

Photo: NZERI

NZERI accepts that it is "not an industry watchdog or a policing organisation"

New Zealand Education Representatives in India comprises members who are “qualified, trusted, tested and established organisations promoting Education in New Zealand for decades”.

The announcement comes months after Education NZ said it would disband its Recognised Agencies program with some stakeholders suggesting it was not “fit for purpose”.

For over 25 years, members of the group – the last iteration of which was known as ENZRA – collaborated with Immigration NZ and Education NZ.

The former ENZRA agents have come together to launch the new group with four aims.

Firstly, the organisation comprising education adviser and counsellors in India will work to promote New Zealand as a study destination for international education.

It has pledged to protect the interests of the students, from the right from the initial counselling to post landing, including settlement assistance and pastoral care for students.

NZERI is seeking to uphold the integrity of the system by “setting and adhering to the highest standards of ethics, professional code of conduct, honesty and transparency”.

Existing and new members will have to comply with the NZERI code of conduct.

Finally, by collaborating closely with Immigration NZ, it wants to be recognised as “the leading facilitator and a (self-regulated) trusted bridge in the realm of international education between New Zealand and India”.

In a statement to The PIE, NZERI said the former ENZRA program “worked well” for the Indian-subcontinent market, but acknowledged it “might not have worked very well in other countries”.

“Its closure created a vacuum in the market and the ENZ India team could not have continued this program for India specific agents, where it is very important to have a unified platform to boost New Zealand Education exports and student exchange programs,” the organisation noted.

NZERI’s first president is Liz Batra, from the IEGC agency with offices in New Zealand, Chandigarh and Pune.

Sandeep Jani will act as Vice President, Munish Sekhri General Secretary and Kshitij Garg Treasurer.

Ravi Lochan Singh from Global Reach is on the executive board, and will share his experience with AAERI as NZERI takes shape.

ENZ and INZ have been invited as permanent honorary members.

NZERI officially launched in  New Delhi on February 12, with the leadership team later visiting the New Zealand High Commission to meet New Zealand High Commissioner to India, David Pine, and ENZ general manager – international, Lisa Futschek.

NZERI accepts that it is “not an industry watchdog or a policing organisation”.

“We are here to collaborate with all the education advisers”

“We are here to collaborate with all the education advisers (existing and upcoming) to come together and let us self-regulate and re-train ourselves to serve our stakeholders with the best of our abilities and let us create new and higher standards and benchmarks for our industry,” the leadership team told The PIE in a joint statement.

“[We are] keeping in mind that we deal with students of all ages and we play a pivotal role in impacting their lives in many ways. Let us do that with utmost honesty, integrity, transparency and professionalism.”

It will “strongly advocate and stand for [sector] regulation”.

“We would also like the industry to start referring to us as ‘advisers’ and not ‘agents’, as in many countries and societies, the word ‘agent’ has a negative connotation,” NZERI said.

The group appreciates clamp-downs on unethical recruitment in certain markets and agrees moves “had to be put in place, better sooner than later”.

“Post-covid, these countries had seen an exorbitant increase in international students, and although it brought in a lot of revenue for the receiving countries; we must agree that the spurt of growth was inorganic.

“Today hundreds of student-agent aggregators have created hundreds of thousands of agents and sub agents across the globe. Tens of thousands of such agents and sub agents operate in the Indian subcontinent with impunity, in the lack of regulation, under the aegis of well funded aggregators.”

While not against the use of such platforms, NZERI said that those advisers interacting as the ‘last mile link’ between universities and students “must take the ownership of the applications they are submitting to the education providers and to the immigration”.

“They must adhere to some stringent KYC, training and vetting procedures to ensure the integrity of the operations and the industry as a whole.”

It wants to work with organisations like ICEF, Immigration Advisers Authority, INZ and ENZ to create training and certification programs for upskilling members and their staff.

The platform NZERI creates allows it to work with INZ to “seek solutions to the pressing hurting the export education sector”.

It will also urge government to address issues such as long visa processing times, inconsistent decisions, and “rationalising” funds requirements.

“We want New Zealand’s education export sector to continue to have sustainable growth”

“One of our major requests that we make via NZERI to the new government is to reinstate the processing of student visa applications in India by re-opening their office in Mumbai; the closure of which has deeply impacted the applicants. This will help clearing the backlogs and improve the quality and consistency of visa decisions.”

The vetted NZERI members will allow for sustainable growth in international student numbers.

The National party – elected in October last year – promised extended post study work rights as well as fast-track visa processing for international students who pay an additional fee in its manifesto.

“New Zealand is a small country, a boutique destination and cannot sustain huge numbers of students or for that matter, thousands of agents and sub agents like many other larger counterparts have been able to.

“We want New Zealand’s education export sector to continue to have sustainable growth by attracting high value students. What better than having vetted and trusted partners like the NZERI members to support this growth under the new and energetic government leadership in New Zealand.”

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