Ambassador David Strachan: “If some things are too good to be true, it’s probably not true”

New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. David Strachan Photo by Alysa Salen

Education trafficking.

This was a term used by Philippine ambassador to New Zealand Gary Domingo when he denounced unscrupulous individuals and organizations for the scams they ran to hoodwink folk of their hard-earned money.

Ambassador Gary Domingo

The scam went like this. Certain people misrepresent themselves as agents of educational institutions in New Zealand. They offer a “guarantee” that if those looking for work abroad get a New Zealand student visa, he or she will later be allowed to work in that country.

What these victims belatedly realize that these was sure fire way to disaster.

“This pathway is what I call education trafficking,” the Filipino diplomat told the Philippines Graphic. He pointed out that “unscrupulous” immigration agents misrepresent the official campaign of the New Zealand government to attract international students.

In New Zealand itself, this problem has been recognized.

According to New Zealand news reports, several individuals have been arrested and tried after forming fly-by-night educational institutions that took advantage of the New Zealand government’s efforts. These individuals employed agents in other countries to recruit people to enroll as students in New Zealand. Once in New Zealand, the victims of the scam belatedly learn that they will not get what they had paid for, a “guaranteed pathway” to residency in that country.

In reality there was no guarantee that after getting a student visa, one will become a permanent resident of New Zealand.

“An opportunity is not a guarantee,” Domingo told the Graphic. “Getting a student visa simply means that one is offered a chance to obtain permanent residency in the future.”

He explained that shady agents of deliberately obscure the distinction between the worlds “guarantee” and “opportunity” in order to snare their victims.

New Zealand ambassador to the Philippines, David Stracham, acknowledged that he was aware of the Filipino diplomat’s efforts.

However, the New Zealander emphasized that this was being done by a “small minority.”

“I think we have to be very careful not to make too many sweeping comments about the nature of New Zealand education,” Stracham pointed out. “We have all sorts of accountability measures built into it.”

“I would say that sure, there are some people out there that are not as honest as we would hope,” Stracham said. “These are a small minority. And I guess there’s an old saying: ‘If some things are too good to be true, it’s probably not true.’”

“Now I can assure you that the New Zealand government, Immigration New Zealand and other officials are working very closely with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to make sure that job offers to New Zealand are, in fact, credible,” the diplomat said during a meeting with journalists from the Graphic and Business Mirror.

“I would say, and I want to take this opportunity to say to the people out there, if they’re considering a job offer to New Zealand, they should seek the help of a licensed immigration adviser and all the needed details are available online,” he said.

There’s a need for people to check the Immigration New Zealand data and there’s all sorts of details there about do’s and don’ts,” he added. “It’s not in our interest that these scams exist. They’re a small minority of people out there that are not sometimes doing the right thing.”

And the ambassador from New Zealand was right.

In blunt language, the website of New Zealand Immigration had a warning about people trafficking: “The United Nations defines people trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by deceptive, coercive or other improper means for the purpose of exploiting that person. It is a global crime, committed at the expense of victims who are robbed of their dignity and freedom.”

It was a view shared by both Domingo and Stracham.

Even as Domingo told the Graphic that New Zealand authorities should go after those behind the scam, Stracham said his government was doing so.

“I have full confidence in the New Zealand education sector to crack down on these people,” Stracham said. “I also would say to the people out there that if you’re told that you take such and such a course in New Zealand, you’ll be guaranteed residency, then don’t believe it.” G








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