There have been three topics covered in the media in the last week and they do have a message for the industry… Read on and you will understand my point on how it impacts the industry. Thankfully, education agents are not being singled out for a change!!!
USA: Several “Tri Valleys” discovered and their modus operandi detailed. Interestingly, education agents have not been targeted since hardly any of those “dodgy students” at those “dodgy institutions” were recruited via Education Agents.
“The rush of Indian students to such a new college would have raised concerns among American consular officials in India if they had seen a flood of visa requests from admitted Tri-Valley students. But the university exploited a rule that allows students to gain admission to one college, secure a visa, then transfer to another without ever setting foot on the first campus. The Indian government found that only 100 students had been granted visas directly from U.S. Consulates in India to attend Tri-Valley.”
Several articles have been written on the Tri-Valley scam but none of them have been as complete as the the one in Chronicle of Higher Education. The above extract is from that article but you must read the full to understand the modes operandi and also to learn about the other Tri-Valleys. Dodgy students and Dodgy institutions exist in all countries. The full article is on this link.
AUSTRALIA: A scam at an IELTS centre is exposed. Interestingly, education agents have not been targeted since the IELTS centre was at an University and the staff was involved. The dependence on IELTS as the sole test for English Proficiency is leading to such corruption. The test is far from accurate. A person with same abilities if he takes the tests in succession will receive varying scores and sometimes I have seen even the subscores varying. In India, students believe that the IELTS conducted by IDP is easier to British Council and also there is a rumour of manipulations in score. Some time ago, some staffers were arrested for being involved in fraud. However, all this happens because of the onus that the Government has put on only one test for a candidate to demonstrate his or her English proficiency. Some believe that the tests by themselves have become a cash-grab exercise and students are being forced to re-sit the tests several times.
“An Indian paid AUD 11,000 (approximately Rs 4,92,817) to a former staff member at a Western Australian university so his IELTS score could be improved for PR purposes. “ ”Australia’s department of immigration uses IELTS to determine whether applicants for PR or students are competent in English.”
There have been several articles on this incident in recent days The above extract is from an Online education news Portal (Indiancolleges.com) Read the full article on this link.
UK: Post-Study-Work remains in UK post April too despite the chaos created by the various long and tedious speeches of the Immigration Minister. The lobbying and active opposition from the stakeholders worked finally. Interestingly education agents are not targeted for using post-study-work pathway in education marketing and in-fact the link has been acknowledged by the government and institutions.
“University leaders have extracted concessions from Home Office ministers over plans to slash the number of non-European students coming to the UK every year.”
“In the biggest success for the education sector, ministers decided not to scrap the so-called “post-study” route, which allows foreign university graduates to stay in Britain to seek work. The threat to abolish the route alarmed university bosses and employers because it is cited by Indian and Chinese students as a prime reason for choosing to study in the UK rather than the US, Australia or Canada – Britain’s competitors in the lucrative international education market.”
The above extract is from the Financial Times. Read the full article on this link.
Conclusion: Time to realize that education-agents have been made scapegoats in the past years. There are good and bad doctors, good and bad lawyers and good and bad education agents. Education agents are NOT THE ONLY ONES responsible for education and migration linkage OR IELTS fraud OR recruitment to dodgy colleges.
Through the above three chosen articles I am trying to put out that viewpoints are changing:
- Dodgy institutions exist in all countries and students can reach them even without an agent’s help – dodgy finds dodgy,
- IELTS fraud can happen even at an University and is largely because we have only one test system currently and
- With UK reversing the earlier announcements of the Immigration Minister regarding PSW and acknowledging that Post study work is a marketing tool for overseas education, a change in mindset across the world is in offing on this. Education remains a pathway to work or settlement overseas.
Ravi, If you read my earlier emails, I have clearly said that the agents are not always at fault. First position goes to dodgy students, second position to their parents who support them. And fraud exists in all areas of life from priests in temples to military officials to grocery business. Hope what I wrote makes sense.
YES you are absolutely right, the main blame should go on students and their families, then there are many unscrupulous institutes abroad and they are the ones that need to be blamed for all the happenings. Institutes offering free air tickets, free laptops, free MP3 players etc. should be banned. It’s these institutes from overseas that have given birth to dodgy agencies.
Also many private institutes from New Zealand are right now stationed in North India attracting students with such incentives and on a spree of giving birth to more dodgy agencies
We never think about the small computer institutes mushrooming and giving certifications, for that matter Aircraft Pilots getting fake certificates. Why are we always nagging these foreign colleges. There is so much to fix in our own country.
In our own country we don’t spend lakhs of rupees and even if we do we can recover it all via settlement procedures approching some politician. Every one has some sort of support here either from family, relatives or even friends but in a foreign land its all missing.
The pilot schools are nailed now and it will be fixed with some strict policies, the same should also happen with overseas education institutes who come here to take Indian students
Nishi, It is very serious issue as many dodgy private providers are coming to us and offering attractive commissions and appointing agents all across India. I would not like to give name but a Private Provider in NZ has more than 50 agents just in Gujarat. I happened to see the list as this colleges marketing manager had come to my office last month and he told me that by appointing more agents he is sure his business will increase subtantially. I said to him “All the best”. We have now stoped sending students to him. I feel time has come for all of us to be very careful before we sign up with institutions. We need to check them out completely.
I have always said why hold agents responsible for things that go wrong with international students. In Australia agents were blamed for dodgy colleges. We have no control on the teaching and running of the institutions. Agents don’t regulate these colleges. We only recruit for institutions which are in demand.It is the job of respective authorities of respective countries to keep check and regulate these institutions.
Yes I feel we need to have alternative to IELTS. Recently I came across a student who had 6.5 in IELTS and needed 7. I suggested to her why not retake the test again and you will be surprised to know she got 5.5. So she took the test 4 times after that and her score has not increased beyound 6. She might be just unlucky or God knows.
Everyone is saying Australia is going to be back from April onwords but I don’t think so because Australia living expenses is too high AUD$ 18,000. If a student wants to go study in a average university he needs to have funds approximately Rs. 35 to 38 lakhs. which must be 6 months old. Australian governement wants quality students for universities. Students have to show more funds to study in Australian Universities then in UK, Canada, NZ and even some extend in US universities. I feel to recruit quality students one needs to give incentives to them like part scholarships, discounts in public transport, cheap accomodation on campus etc. In last 5 years the rents have increased in all major cities in the world. Universities need to think in the line of providing cheap accommodation to International students.
With the increase in the dollor rate today foreign education is expensive and parents are thinking of other alternatives.
Raghuvir Singh Kushwaha
Well said Raghuvir. But,why do you think the small colleges pay 30-40% commission and Universities pay 10-15%?
Small and dodgy colleges pay us more, to take the blame when needed. Actually, this phrase should be included in their contracts/agreements also. So, small colleges have shown their fairness in this dealing also.
Please understand that when one is offered unreasonable amount as commission then one needs to check the institution as well. We refused to sign contract with Carrick in Australia and many Private Providers in NZ and UK as well. We were not convinced about them. They were just interested in numbers not in offering quality education. I feel regulatory authorities can also put conditions on commission offered. They know that 90% students are recruited by the agents. The institutions need to inform the regulatory body about agents with whom they are working.
The visas were not granted by the agents. Respective countries immigration department issues visas. Agents job is to check and complete the file.
What happened in UK last year we all saw it and today the situation is opposite.
Raghuvir Singh Kushwaha