Oz’s Group of Eight to recruit students as an agent for small-time-colleges around the globe!!!

Not Just G8 but all Australian Universities have begun to recruit International students on commission for Small-time American Community Colleges, British Second-Tier Universities and New Zealand Colleges…

Don’t be shocked, as I will lay bare the reason for the above statement. Read on…

  • In 1969, Australian Asian Universities’ Cooperation Scheme (AAUCS) to deliver development assistance to universities in South-East Asia.
  • In 1981,AAUCS changed name to International Development Program or IDP.
  • In 1985-86, IDP begins counseling International students to study at Australian Universities.
  • In 1994, IDP becomes IDP Education Australia Ltd.
  • In 1996, the company becomes wholly owned by Australian Universities.
  • In 2006, SEEK acquires 50% stake in IDP BUT significantly Australian Universities continued and continue to retain 50% ownership in IDP.

The above information is from the IDP Corporate Website itself and it can be looked up on the link here.

Point to be noted till here is that IDP continues to be owned by Australian Universities and right upto 50% share and equal to any other owner. Hence it can be summarized that Australian Universities support and back all actions of IDP formally and informally.

IDP website continues to inform:

  • In 2009, IDP starts recruiting students to US institutions.
  • In 2010, IDP sets base to recruit students to UK institutions.

The website lists the names of US institutions for which it has signed agreements to recruit students to and the list can be found publically on the IDP site on this link.

Point to be noted by above is that several of the institutions being recruited students to are fairly unknown and much lower in reputation to most, if not all, Australian Universities. There are also small colleges in the list. I have not gone into the background of each of those colleges but despite having more-than-passing knowledge on US, the list makes IDP just another education agent. Which it is anyway. Labelling the invite to US colleges and institutions of all shades and colour, IDP (remain reminded half-Australian Universities owned) as IF YOU ARE RECRUITING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, RECRUIT US FIRST… IDP details how it is “not just an agent”.


This week, The Australian detailed IDP’s plan to begin recruiting students to NZ Universities. The article on the link also quotes a very senior and experienced International hand at an Australian University stating:

“On balance, my view is IDP needs to be a thriving international business to best help Australian universities. Not everyone agrees with me.”

Certainly not everyone will agree with the above since many in Australia have been told that IDP’s working for USA, UK or NZ will benefit Australia. How? Are they hinting that enquiries for the other countries will be counseled to reach Australia instead… If yes, then this is not fair to those other countries and certainly unethical. It can also happen that those who are considering Australia will easily switch to other destinations…

What IDP is doing is within its right and justified as a business decision. We, certainly as its competitor, should not question it. I am further pleased that the public will no longer be fooled that IDP is equivalent of British Council for Australians or that it is “not an agent” since it is “not for profit” and since it is “owned by Universities”. The veil has been lifted and truth exposed.

Well, welcome IDP as an agent…

Now, I return to the topic under discussion and stitch the points together:

  • IDP is half owned by Australian Universities. This is the majority share holding.
  • IDP is now recruiting for small time institutions from USA. Has begun signing UK institutions starting with the second-tier ones and has announced process for agreements with NZ Universities.

Therefore, we can say that Australian Universities are acting as education agent via IDP and recruiting foreign students to USA, UK and NZ.

Now, lets look at the second chapter of this argument: IDP has in the past recruited students to also “supposedly dodgy” private colleges in Australia which may have shut down now. Meridian Colleges that suddenly changed ownership and then closed down abruptly requiring bad-press for Australia and affecting hundreds of students, is one such example. Hence, will I be wrong to interpret that Australian “big time” Universities recruited for “small time” colleges as an agent…

If the Universities claim that they have no management role in IDP, then that is something they need to introspect… They need to figure out that as the majority shareholder of that business entity. You and I would.

A thought has just hit me: The Universities are owned by the Australian Government and then we can also interpret that “Australian Government is also an education agent for other countries”. Will leave this thought for another day. Will not shock you further…

My blog above is factually based on the information from the official IDP website only. The interpretations are my own and not reflective of any body else.



  1. I have seen offer letters issued via IDP and being used by dodgy agents for the visa application, in other words we can also say it is also doing fund arrangement for students to get visa. In other words we can also say…..


      1. It was during a small stint in Ludhiana about 5 years back, I saw an offer letter with a student (with agent as IDP) it was issued to them by some other agent who was assiting them with visa & other things. I did not dig deep into this matter further. Just got reminded of this matter after reading your blog.


        1. I am not surprised because Punjab is one of highest visa-churning state in India and many financial documents are not genuine.
          To avoid using their own names, some big players have used small-time “dodgy” agents (Chartered Accountants, Law Firms included) to procure financial docs for their clients.
          Most small players, however, have done that on their own.
          I once heard of a person in Jalandhar who proudly stated that his business was “financing”. When asked what type of financing, he said “funds for student visas”. That’s all he did and he bought few “blocks of lands” and “kothis” in Jalandhar. And he was not even an Education Agent. Just a “financier” without worrying about the commission from institutes.


  2. Very interesting fact Ravi.
    IDP should maintain some class. We look upon IDP as a prestigious organization run by Universities, and if they start recruiting students to other countries for money/profit, then I see no difference between this company and an agent doing business on a motorbike.


      1. Nishi, thanks for reminding us of this link. Without inferring that IDP is or is not involved in that fraud, the fact remains that Universities being owners of IDP should be taking responsibility for the fraud too. High time that the Universities shake off their link with a company that is heavily commercial to the extent that it uses the co-ownership of IDP to market all its other services.


  3. Well said, IDP lost the plot when it start to recruit students to dodgy colleges. I agree with what has said here. IDP is just an another agent.


  4. Ravi,
    I think reading all this i can certainly tell you one thing that what happened to OZ in the last yr and half is certainly taking toll on the universities and they are trying every thing big and small. the only thing they do not understand is that before doing all this there has to be concentrated effort to bring up the brand OZ first. By doing this are they trying to divert the students going to the UK and the US to their universities? If that is what they are trying to do it will be a futile effort as the student of today are smarter than what they think….all said and done still ALL THE BEST TO THEM.


    1. I heard this first hand from one of the leading institutions: “IDP’s strong Australian focus will move students who enquire for other destinations to consider Australia.” I bet the situations is going to be that the students who come for Australia and once finding visas difficult will easily move to other destinations. Good for the students, I guess.


      1. Does Australia or Australian Institutes need to play this sort of games via their sister concern IDP to attract students to study in OZ?

        Its pathetic


  5. IDP do work with sub agents and IDp dont have any clue about sub agent and how much the sub agents are charging. Bunch of jokers students run the joint and give misleading information to student stating that ‘IDP is own by Australian government’. what load of shit!


  6. Joke of the day:
    “A thought has just hit me: The Universities are owned by the Australian Government and then we can also interpret that “Australian Government is also an education agent for other countries”. Will leave this thought for another day. Will not shock you fur”ther…”



    1. Its the work-in-progress for another blog… Australian Government must insist on Australian Public Sector Universities to think of their backing on IDP… It will happen and sooner better than later.


  7. Dear Ravi,

    I appreciate your efforts to put before truth and questions roaming around all in our minds.

    For your information, IDP has started counselling for Canada too so now you can add that Australian Government is promoting Canadian Education too. I referred advertisement published recently in Times of India – Education Time stating “Study in Canada with IDP – the world’s largest student placement company and co-owner of IELTS, Apply to leading Canadian Universities and Colleges for September 2011 intake”. Its also mentioned very clearly “Register for IELTS at the venue”…. IDP.

    Whether such double standards continue? If so, till what time?

    Prasanna Acharya


    1. Prasanna, dig a little deeper. Look at the Canadian Institutions and their standing being represented. Certainly second-tier. They are fine for an agent to represent but imaging top Australian Universities recruiting students for them through their profit making arm in form of IDP. Something is amiss for sure. If not, when will the Ozzie institutions wake up and not continue to be fooled. My blog is not against IDP as an agent but more aimed at Universities who half-own them… Did you take a good look at the advert. It has to say “co-owner of IELTS”. Another monopolistic advantage on their part… I wonder what Cambridge and British Council have to say to that being other “co-owners”. Food for another blog…


      1. Dear Ravi,

        Agreed. Either Australian Government and all Universities should come with clean hands saying they are here to make money and to make money they will down to anything… I am not using standards here as there is some limit there too.

        I am really concern to see whether all efforts of Australian Government and Universities should only focus at present to promote and reestablish Australia as prefer and safe destination to study or to waste money and energy to promote other competitors! while making small percentage of commission?

        Indian students and parents are too smart, if someone is saying that by promoting other countries, IDP will get students for Australia, proving either all are fool or s/he her/hilself – its joke in International Education. Since 1997, I have never seen one can divert “genuine students” to some other options – possibilities are rare, instead all these IDP should promote only Australia – which will help a lot in long run to Australian Government and Universities too in long run.

        Prasanna Acharya


  8. Ravi, this is a good article and YES you are ABSOLOUTLY right, indirectly (or directly) Universities in Australia have become agents themselves. In some countries commercial practices or involvement is banned for education providers. Also some universities around the world have banned payment for retention of students.

    However, Universities or Education providers should concentrate on creating resources for education, attracting the best faculty and students, creating more research facilities and so on. Especially when most Universities in Australia are publicly funded they must not engage themselves in any sort of recuritment activities. But here I see them getting into commercial activities like student recruitment not only to Australia but now to other countries too.
    Part ownership or full ownership – what ever it may be it still implies responsibility for all actions of the company. IDP is now just like any other agents recruiting students to UK, USA or New Zealand. If IDP makes a profit then it is equally distributed to all share holders, as Australian Universities own 50% shares in this company they also get the profits. They are like any other agents.

    Universities must be safeguarding the interests of the student community with adequate emphasis on facilities, teaching, research and creating facilities and must avoid commercialization of this sector. I must focus here on ethics and not on efficiency……….


    1. All these days, the Aus govt. Was chasing small fish in an attempt to clean this industry but did not notice that they were fishing sitting on a whale until Ravi pointed out. It is time now for the universities to clarify their stance on this issue. All the agents want to know if these universities in Australia are education providers or agents?


  9. Hi Ravi,
    I don’t know does any one looked at this company formation at ASIC. It is worth checking the company structure of IDP in ASIC!


  10. Couple of years back, this issue was raised in MIA forum. MIA (Migration Institute of Australia) members raised this issue where IDP was acting as an Education Agent, conducting IELTS and providing immigration assistance to students. Major “conflict of interest”.

    At that time, there were no MARNs displayed on their websites or advertisements.

    As soon as MIA took this up with DIAC/MARA, IDP put up few MARNs (mostly new Registered Migration Agents) on their advertisements. The issue simply died there!

    It was also a well known fact that IDP was previously owned by Aus unis and later 50% by Seek Australia.
    IELTS Australia is owned by British Council, IDP and Uni of Cambridge. So Aus Govt is also making money through IELTS, which is seen as “not a conclusive evidence of an applicant’s English proficiency”. We all know what is going on with applicants seeking 6 or 7 each in IELTS, having taken exam for 7-8 times and yet failing to achieve individual bands. They usually fall short by .5 in one of the modules (not the same module) during multiple attempts.


    1. DIAC should also accept other English tests like TOEFL and PTE in line with IELTS, as this will stop the monopoly of IELTS which is existing now


  11. I appreciate your skills on interpreting the factual information available and raising such a sensitive issue. What right IDP has to run IELTS when they are just another hard core agent recruiting for many pvt and dodgy colleges in Australia and now they would be doing so such colleges in various countries. Yes G8 are part of it and can’t escape of their involvement as agent for a pvt college!!!!


    1. It is not IDP which needs to rethink. They are doing well as a business and also taking the Australian Universities for a ride. The Universities need to realise that the old relationship with IDP cannot go on in the current circumstance. Our job is purely to remind but the decisions will have to be taken by them alone.


    1. This is the problem with many companies that start in another era with a different goal and then keep getting misdirected. If the management is not in sync with the reality then too there will be issues.


  12. “Australian Govt after losing Students from India ,now trying to make money out of Indian Students studying in Other Countries” I can see Arnab Goswami going apoplectic with this one…


    1. Right now Goswami is busy with Libya, Wikileaks and Japan. He missed an opportunity when the Tosha killer turned out to be one from the Indian subcontinent and one who lived in the same acco. However, Australian Universities need to be aware that its standards are reflected if they also become agents for second rate institutions. What an Irony: Australia’s Ivy-League run IDP has signed up institutions from US and not one of them is in top 20 or possibly top 50 or possibly top 100 in the world and has signed up institutions from UK and not one of them at this stage is a “russell group” institution. They say that ones company reflects upon oneself and so the Universities need to delink themselves immediately from IDP as IDP is no longer what they proposed in 1969 or even in 1986 or even in 2001. It has changed completely. and is a mere agent. There are also instances of fraud and irregularities reported from time to time.


  13. Hi Ravi & All
    I have seen everyone’s comment and nothing much we can do. We need to find ways to educate students that IDP is just another agent like all of us does not have any extra advantage for getting visa.
    Please see the link below and you all understand the whole game plan.
    Australian Universities are going to be in big shock if they are thinking that IDP will divert students for other countries to them then they are in for rude shock. Raghuvir


    1. The issue is not about IDP at all. IDP is a business and will continue to do what it does best. But the issue is that the industry needs a “level playing field” esp now that IDP is a mere agent and possibly one that is a a late starter. The issue is also about how long the Universities will continue to be misled. The issue is also about the students who need to not just choose to seek IDP because they are “owned by Australian Universities” and then go to UK or USA or NZ or Canada. The issue is also for the co-owners of IELTS to realise that the IDP-ownership by IDP is being used for active marketing. The co-owning of IELTS is no guarantee of the counselling abilities. Lastly, I feel that it is lowering the importance and standards of the top Australian Universities that helped set up IDP when IDP is representing second-rate institutions.

      The link that you provide is not new information. It is already provided in the blog above and one quote from the article is also there. Please reread.


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