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The pastoral care of international students in New Zealand : is it more than a consumer protection regime?
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Erlenawati Sawir, S Marginson, C Nyland, G Ramia, F Rawlings-Sanaei
Student security is a composite social practice that includes the domains of consumer rights, entitlement to a range of welfare supports and pastoral care, and freedom from exploitation and discrimination. Three traditions shape the systems used for managing and regulating international student security in the nations that export education: pastoral care, consumer protection and quasi-citizenship. Each has different implications for the positioning of students as agents. This study used semi-structured interviews with 70 international students from nine countries in two contrasting universities. It investigated the provision of international student security, including the distinctive New Zealand regime of security, regulated by the National Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. This Code binds provider institutions and the International Education Appeal Authority, and permits Code-based claims by students from providers. The study found that international students in New Zealand have varying expectations of student security, which draws eclectically from all three traditions. There are gaps in the coverage of pastoral care, including the areas of financial matters and intercultural relations. Where the Code does provide protection, its provisions are not always fully implemented, such as for accommodation assistance. More seriously, there is little knowledge among students of the Code of Practice and their Code-based entitlements, and almost no knowledge of the Appeal Authority. Numerous students testified to poor information flow. This limits not only their capacities as quasi-consumers and their access to pastoral services – so that in practice, the New Zealand system is similar to the Australian system, which is explicitly limited to consumer protection – but even their ability to fully utilize consumer protection. This defect renders the promise of a regulated pastoral care regime grounded in active student agency largely inoperative.