When THE AUSTRALIAN recommends AAERI petition on restricting onshore education agent commissions… Time for policy makers to heed.

Call to keep dodgy agents out: It’s been estimated that around 27,000 new student visas are issues by the Australian High Commission in Delhi each year. And the scourge of ‘waka-jumpers’ — non-genuine students who enrol via the streamlined visa process and then jump into non-accredited or cheaper courses — has the peak body for agents up in arms. The Association of Australian Education Representative in India, representing about 90 ‘reputable’ agents, has set up a petition to prohibit commission payments to onshore agents in Australia. “The new SSVF system provides an equal playing field for the education providers, we believe that unless the ESOS act prohibits the payment of commission to onshore agents, this loophole will continue to be abused in Australia,” says AAERI president Rahul Gandhi. The association wants a mere 100 signatures. It has 96. You can help him out by signing the petition here.

This is how Australia’s leading newspaper THE AUSTRALIAN’s HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT dated 19th August 2016 introduces the AAERI petition in its editorial. The total number of signatories to the petition has crossed 100 already and thus has met the first goal. You may however still sign the petition making it stronger in support.

On 5th August, I drew your attention to the severity of the situation onshore and how the students get poached onshore by such dodgy middle-men. In this blog I suggested that the new system of accrediting agents lays more focus on the onshore education/migration agents and how there is just no justification for the engagement of an onshore agent by an institution at all when the student doesn’t need any assistance which the institution is not able able to offer directly.

On 8th August, I had blogged detailing how the policies in other countries attempt at restraining onshore activities of education agents. I made special reference to the fact that US has prohibited payment of commission for students who may be recruited onshore by agents while allowing the same for offshore recruitment.

In this earlier blog, I did refer to the menace of the onshore agents in NZ, a few years ago and how the NZ Government has linked the student visa to a particular institution and if the student decides to change institution, they do need to apply to the Immigration NZ for a fresh visa. Allow me to share some further information pertaining to the NZ efforts to nip this development right at that time.

The situation was fairly grim in 2008-2009 with several instances of wake-jumping. The linked article from 2009 indicates how the Government was made amendments to the education act making it difficult for students to secure full refunds.

The Government is moving to prevent “waka jumping” among international students as figures show student visa approvals are up for the first time in five years.

The Press reported in April on what had become known as “waka jumping”, where international students apply for a student visa to attend an institution, but after arriving in the country drop out and start a cheaper course elsewhere.

Current regulations mean students can switch schools with a full refund from their former institution.

The Government is changing the Education Act to allow private training establishments to retain up to 25 per cent of fees to compensate for the costs of recruiting international students.

So with the above, full refunds were not possible as a measure to compensate for the cost of recruitment efforts overseas by institutions. And the visa was clearly linked to the institution too. Students enrolling in NZ institutions were granted visa for the duration of the course for which the student has pre-paid.

And now I find the following standard clause in NZ agreements with the agents which indicates that the commission may be payable if the student has completed a program of study onshore and proceeding for further study BUT it is not paid if the student has been poached midway of the first qualification in NZ.

XXXXX will pay the commission as detailed under clause 4.1 for any student who meets academic entry requirements based on prior completion of an academic qualification in New Zealand, providing that the AGENT was responsible for the initial placement of the student for that qualification in a New Zealand secondary school or English language foundation

Commission is not payable if the student is seeking entry to XXXXX on the basis of a partially or fully completed diploma or degree or other qualification from a New Zealand tertiary institution or private training establishment unless the AGENT provides evidence that they were responsible for the initial placement of the student in the New Zealand tertiary institution.

This definitely is what is desired from Australia too. Protect the interest of the reputed Universities that travel and build brand of Australia offshore and spend in this effort. And protect the interest of the offshore education representatives of such institutions that provide assistance right from career counselling to visas prior to enrolment at the Universities.

You can help by signing the AAERI petition here. Please support the interest of Institutions that recruit from offshore markets and the interest of their offshore representatives.

2 Comments

  1. Well stated Ravi. I recall my letter on behalf of AIS was tabled in parliament as part of this debate. Since the change waka jumping has been largely stamped out in NZ. Australian education providers deserve the same.

    Liked by 1 person

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