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With release of the DIBP 2015-16 statistics on student visas, we can foresee a flattening in student numbers over 2016-17. The growth in student numbers is largely due to declined refusal rate for India and Nepal.

Now that the full year (July-June) stats are released, there is a modest growth in student visas for India while a significant growth for Nepal. The increase in student visa grants from Nepal looks significant but that is largely due to significantly reduced refusal rate. The visa grant rate for Nepal for students outside of Australia jumped up from 69% to 88%.

I do believe that the coming months will see the plateau emerge in student visa numbers as there are not too many reasons for the numbers to keep shooting up. Nepal visa grant % can’t go up further. Indian student visa grant % may improve a little with SSVF though. I however expect the overall numbers from India to stabilise around 20,000 while that from Nepal will settle around 7000. This is more reasonable too and I believe we are at the highest point for the curve.

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Full report can be found on this link.

 

AIU advisory on recognition of foreign degrees is a “must consider” by all overseas bound Indian students.

Students returning with a foreign qualification to India need to procure an equivalence certificate from AIU if they seek employment with Indian Public Service (through bodies such as UPSC), with Indian Banks, with Indian Universities, seek further education (such as Masters with Indian Universities after a Bachelors from overseas or PhD after a Masters from overseas) or enter into professions where they need to demonstrate that they hold a certain level of qualification. For such students it is advised that the qualification obtained is in accordance with the advisory below:

Evaluation Division, Association of Indian Universities (AIU)
AIU House, 16-Comrade Indrajit Gupta Marg, New Delhi – 110002

ADVISORY TO STUDENTS SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMMES OF STUDIES PROMISING QUALIFICATIONS/ DEGREES FROM FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES

Students seeking admission in such Programmes of Studies which promise award of Foreign Qualifications/Degrees are, hereby, advised to ensure that these programmes meet the eligibility requirements for according Equivalence as specified by the Association of Indian Universities.

Students are advised to read the Information Brochure of the AIU on Equivalence of Foreign Qualification/Degrees which may be downloaded free of cost from the AIU website (www.aiu.ac.in).

Given below is a gist of the eligibility requirements for equivalence of foreign qualifications/degrees and Students are ADVISED to ensure that the Programme of Studies and Institutions meet these requirements failing which the Equivalence shall not be granted

SEEKING ADMISSION TO SCHOOL AFFILIATED TO FOREIGN BOARD/OFFERING FOREIGN SYSTEM OF EDUCATION:

  1. Equivalence is granted only if (i) the foreign system of educationprescribes a minimum of 12 years of regular schooling; (ii) the school is affiliated by a Board that has been approved/recognised; (iii) the school leaving certificate has been issued by the Board that has been approved/ recognised/accredited in the country concerned;
  2. As American High School is not conducted by any Board, the School has to be accredited by one of the six recognised accrediting agencies in the United States.
  3. AIU shall accord equivalence to school level examinations on the fulfilment of the following conditions:

(a) the Minimum duration of the programme must be at least the same as prescribed for the corresponding level of qualification in India (i.e a minimum of 10 years of schooling for being equated with Secondary School Certificate Examination of the CBSE/other Boards in India; and a minimum of 12 years of Schooling for being equated with the Senior School Certificate Examination of the CBSE/other Boards in India);

(b) the candidate must have passed the Examination equivalent to the Grade 10 with a Minimum of 5 (five) subjects including English;

(c) the candidate must have passed the Examination equivalent to Grade 12 with a Minimum of 4 (Four) subjects except in case of the GCE ADVANCED (“A”) LEVEL Examination of the approved British Examination Bodies wherein the candidate must have passed the A Level examination with 2/3 subjects at Advanced Level; provided further that in case of Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education from Tanzania and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education from Uganda which allow students to take courses at Principal and Subsidiary level, equivalence shall be issued by the AIU only if the students has obtained a minimum of two Principal and two Subsidiary Passes;

(d) the School Level examination has been conducted and certificate awarded by the Board/University duly approved and recognised by the Ministry of Education/concerned Ministry of the country to which the Board/University belong. Provided further that in case of the American High School Diploma where certificate is awarded by the School itself (not by any Board/University), the equivalence shall be given only if the School is accredited either by the State Department of Education in the United States or by one of the 6 (SIX) Regional Accrediting Agencies in the US, i.e. (i) Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges, (ii) New England Association of Schools and Colleges; (iii) North Central Association of Schools and Colleges; (iv) North West Association of Schools and Colleges; (v) Southern Association of School and Colleges; and (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)

IB Diploma/ Course (Certificate) AIU shall accord equivalence to both the IB Diploma and the IB Diploma Course (i.e. IB Certificate) provided that a student has secured a minimum of 24 credits and has passed a minimum of three subjects at Higher Level (HL) and three at Lower Level (SL);

4. Equivalence is not granted for qualifications that are awarded for studies undertaken OPEN/DISTANCE/ONLINE/VIRTUAL of HOME STUDIES/ PRIVATE Mode(s)/ certificate awarded in less than 12 years duration;

SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMME OF STUDIES PROMISING DEGREES AWARDED BY FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES FOR STUDIES UNDERTAKEN ON THEIR CAMPUS OF ORIGIN

1. Equivalence is granted to students if he/she meets the following eligibility conditions: (a) The degree has been awarded by a university which is duly approved/recognised/accredited in its own country; (b) The student has pursued the programme of studies as a full time regular student on the campus of the university in the foreign country; (c) The minimum eligibility qualification for admission to the programme of the study is at least the same as prescribed in India; and (d) The duration of the programme of study is at least the same as prescribed in India;

2. The minimum prescribed duration and minimum eligibility of various Programmes of Studies in India, shall be such as are specified by the University Grants Commission (UGC) vide Gazette Notification published from time to time;

3. As of now, Equivalence is not accorded to foreign degrees awarded under DISTANCE/OPEN/ONLINE/VIRTUAL/HOME STUDIES/PRIVATE mode(s) etc.

 

SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMME OF STUDIES PROMISING DEGREES AWARDED BY THE FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES FOR STUDIES UNDERTAKEN IN INDIA:

1. Equivalence is granted only if the following conditions are fulfilled: (a) the foreign university awarding the degree must be duly approved/recognised by the competent authorities in its own country and/or must be duly accredited by the recognised accrediting agency in its own country; (b) the institute/college/university where studies were undertaken in India must be duly approved/recognised by the competent authorities in India and/ or duly accredited by the recognised accrediting agencies in India; (c) the institute/college/university where studies were undertaken in India must be duly approved by the competent authorities in India (UGC/AICTE/ Government of India) to award degree of the foreign university; (d) the degree has been awarded in accordance with the Rules & Regulations framed by the Statutory/Regulatory Bodies in India; (e) the student has completed his studies as a full time regular student throughout the prescribed duration of the programme of the studies; and (f) that all other parameters as laid down by AIU for according equivalence to foreign degrees have been fulfilled;

SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMME OF STUDIES PROMISING DEGREES AWARDED BY FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES FOR STUDIES UNDERTAKEN IN THEIR OFFSHORE CAMPUSES/ COLLABORATING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES EXCEPT INDIA:

1. Equivalence is granted only if the following conditions are fulfilled: (a) the foreign university awarding the degree must be duly approved/recognized by the competent authorities in its own country and/or must be duly accredited by the recognised accrediting agency in its own country; (b) the offshore campus/collaborating educational institution where studies were undertaken must be duly approved/recognised by the competent authorities in the country where they are operating and/or is accredited by the accrediting agencies that has been duly recognised in that country; (c) the offshore campus/collaborating educational institution where studies were undertaken must be duly approved by the competent authorities in that country to award degree of the foreign university; (d) the degree has been awarded in accordance with the Rules & Regulations prescribed by the competent authorities of the country where the offshore campus/collaborating educational institution operates; (e) the student has completed his studies as a full time regular student throughout the prescribed duration of the programme of the studies; and (f) all other parameters as laid down by AIU for according equivalence to foreign degrees have been fulfilled;

SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMME OF STUDIES PROMISING DEGREES AWARDED BY THE INDIAN UNIVERSITIES FOR STUDIES UNDERTAKEN IN THEIR OFFSHORE CAMPUSES/COLLABORATING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS ABROAD:

1. Equivalence is granted only if the following conditions are fulfilled: (a) The Indian University must have obtained due approval/permission from the concerned appropriate regulatory bodies/competent authorities in India (UGC/AICTE/MHRD/Government of India) for establishing and operating the offshore campus/entering into such agreements/MoUs with collaborating educational institutions; (b) The programme of studies for which the degree has been awarded for studies undertaken in the offshore campus/collaborating institution abroad has been duly approved by the concerned appropriate regulatory bodies/competent authorities in India (UGC/AICTE/MHRD/Government of India); (c) The offshore campus/ collaborating educational institution abroad has been duly approved/ recognised by the competent authorities/regulatory bodies of that country and/or has been accredited by the accrediting agency duly recognised in that country; (d) the degree has been awarded in accordance with the Rules & Regulations prescribed by the competent authorities of india as well as by the competent authorities/regulatory bodies of the country where the offshore campus/collaborating educational institution operates; (e) the student has completed his studies as a full time regular student throughout the prescribed duration of the programme of the studies; and (f) all other parameters as laid down by AIU for according equivalence to foreign degrees have been fulfilled;

SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMME OF STUDIES PROMISING DEGREES AWARDED BY THE FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES TO THE STUDENTS ADMITTED THROUGH PATHWAYS/DIPLOMA LEVEL INSTITUTIONS:

1. As of now, the AIU does NOT accord Equivalence to such degrees offered by the foreign universities where students are admitted through pathway/ diploma level institutions;

SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMME OF STUDIES PROMISING DEGREES AWARDED BY THE FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES FOR STUDIES UNDERTAKEN THROUGH OPEN/ DISTANCE/CORRESPONDENCE / ONLINE/VIRTUAL MODE etc:

1. As of now, the AIU does NOT accord Equivalence to such foreign degrees that have been obtained for studies undertaken through open/distance/ correspondence/online/virtual modes(s) etc ;

SEEKING ADMISSION TO PROGRAMME OF STUDIES PROMISING DEGREES AWARDED BY THE FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES IN SUCH DISCIPLINES WHICH ALSO ENTITLE THE HOLDER OF THE DEGREE TO PRACTICE A PROFESSION

1. AIU does not entertain applications for equivalence of such professional degrees awarded by foreign universities which also entitle the holder of the degree to practice a profession in India.

2. Thus, degrees in disciplines like Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Law, Architecture etc are presently outside the purview of the AIU as such cases are handled by the respective professional councils;

Issued in Public Interest on 25.07.2016 by the
Evaluation Division Association of Indian Universities (AIU) New Delhi, India; http://www.aiu.ac.in

http://www.aiu.ac.in/Evaluation/AIU%20Advisory%20to%20Students%20Foreign%20Degree%2025.07.2016.pdf

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2016 in education

 

Australia’s major STEM push: 5 extra migration points for Research Masters and Doctors… Good initiative.

From 10th September 2016 Australia will be awarding additional 5 points in the Skilled points test (489, 189 and 190 visas) for Doctorate/Masters study in certain STEM streams.

The amendment to the points test will enhance the pathway to permanent residence for students who have completed Doctoral or Masters by research-level qualifications in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) or specified information and communication technology (ICT) related fields in Australia.

The current points test will be amended to award additional points for Doctorate and Masters by research-level qualifications gained from Australian universities in STEM, specified ICT and other related fields.

The following fields of education qualifications are proposed to be accepted under this new measure and are defined by the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS):

Field of Education:

Biological Sciences
Chemical Sciences
Earth Sciences
Mathematical Sciences
Natural and Physical Sciences
Other Natural and Physical Sciences
Physics and Astronomy
Computer Science
Information Systems
Information Technology
Other Information Technology
Aerospace Engineering and Technology
Civil Engineering
Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Technology
Engineering and Related Technologies
Geomatic Engineering
Manufacturing Engineering and Technology
Maritime Engineering and Technology
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Technology
Other Engineering and Related Technologies
Process and Resources Engineering.

Graduates who want to determine whether their qualification is eligible are able to search the CRICOS website. If their qualification is at Doctorate or Masters by research-level and their field of education is listed in the above table then they will be eligible for five additional points towards their points test.

Source: http://www.iscah.com/additional-5-points-in-the-skilled-points-test-489-189-and-190-visas-for-doctoratemasters-study-in-some-subjects/

 

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2016 in education

 

Indian students being deported in NZ have a right to protest but It is impossible that the fraudulent documents were provided by agents without the students wanting them that way…

A media release is in circulation that large numbers of Indian students are to protest this weekend in Auckland against their deportation. While they are within their rights to do so but it is impossible to believe the reason that they give.

A student submitting a fraudulent bank or other documents in their student visa application is always in the know and have desired it that way. Some may have been assisted by their education agents in the process but to put the blame solely on the education agent located overseas is like passing the buck to a party which might not be present to defend themselves. (From the rumours that I hear, one of the key agencies involved is based in NZ… but that is another matter…)

I will let you see the media release and make up your own mind on it:

Indian students and supporters plan protest

Thursday, 1 September 2016, 3:36 pm
Press Release: International Indian students
Indian students and supporters plan protest on Saturday to demand justice

Press Release

Over 150 International Indian students are about to be deported from New Zealand because their India-based agents have used fake financial documents to get them into the country on student visas.

These students had no idea that fake documents were used by their agents. Deporting them for something which they have not done is unfair.

A protest is being organised at 12 noon this Saturdayoutside the offices of National Party list MP Dr Paramjeet Parmar in Stoddard Rd, Mt Roskill, Auckland.

The students have paid tens of thousands of dollars to education providers in New Zealand who worked with the recruiters in India but now the students are being told they cannot have refunds if they are sent home.

Despite the fact that the names of these agents have been given to Immigration New Zealand, these dodgy agents have not been held accountable and neither have the colleges where the student studied.

Sunil Chinta, student at AWI international education group says: “We are here for studying and international exposure, not for cheating someone. We are honest, hardworking and law-abiding migrants in the country. Please don’t deport us for something which we have not done”.

Pradeep Sudini, a student at New Zealand Institute of studies says: “Don’t punish me, I have not cheated in anyways to get my student visa. The financial document that was given to Immigration New Zealand on my behalf was done by the agent and not me”.

Sairup Teegala, Royal Business College says “I came to New Zealand with a lot of dreams but now this situation is a nightmare. Had I known earlier I could have acted to correct the situation. I could have been stopped at the airport to avoid this grief and hassle”

Hafiz Syed graduated from NZSE says “I opted for New Zealand for education over US and Canada. When I have applied for my student visa, I had no idea about any fraudulent document. When I have applied for my open job search visa I was told about fraudulent document. This has thrashed me and created pressure on my mind. If deported I will not be able to face my family and friends. Anything worst happens to me, Immigration NZ will be accountable for it”

We are protesting for the justice of these International students and giving a message of Solidarity to our Indian students in the country.

Let’s gather this Saturday at 12 noon outside the Stoddard Road shops in Mount Roskill, Auckland.

Source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1609/S00007/indian-students-and-supporters-plan-protest.htm

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2016 in education

 

AAERI 26/08/16 mega event has posed “tough ethics test” for Education providers and another for ESOS policy makers … Chances are that they will fail !

20 years for any association is big and if that is of competing education agents, it is news by itself. However, now that the immediate euphoria following the event is subsiding, let me analyse the messages coming from the event.

What was on 26th August 2016? :

AAERI celebrated its 20 years in style with all senior members of Australian High Commision led by the HE High Commissioner and including full strength DIBP, DET and AUSTRADE fully backing AAERI as an ideal self-regulatory framework that has passed the test of time and that too in presence of 50 Education Providers from Australia apart from AAERI members. Photographs and comments on the event can be found inter-spread on the social media and so this blog will go beyond that to provide an analysis from my perspective.

Lets begin with one MYTH that AAERI has broken:

MYTH: EDUCATION AGENTS are often dodgy and fiercely competitive to be able to sustain a self-regulatory framework.

AAERI that was written off almost as it was formed in 1996. Today it is celebrating 20 years and have full public backing of Department of Education and Training, Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Australian Trade Commission. At the event, DIBP publicly stated its support for AAERI and the role that AAERI fulfils. Australian High Commissioner Ms Harinder Sidhu, in her speech confirmed the same and the Guest of Honour, Prof Tom Calma, who had helped its setup during his tenure at Australian High Commission in 1996 and currently Chancellor of University of Canberra opined that it can be a model for self-regulatory frameworks around the world and that it can be the basis for accrediting education agents. Do I really need to say more? Nothing is perfect and there can be always some improvement even right now but the fact that AAERI has been adapting and becoming ever more professional as an industry body, speaks volume.

And now the MESSAGES:

MESSAGE TO THE ESOS POLICY MAKERS:

Australian Education Providers and their representatives spend considerable energy and resources in promoting in India and the return for them is the successful enrolment of the student. There was once an Immigration condition on student visas that restricted students switching to other providers for a period of a year. In recent years, the provision was removed and a new ESOS (Standard 7) provision was introduced that meant that if a student switched institutions within the first six months of the main program, they required a release from the first institution. However, it is understood that ESOS is being amended and the Standard 7 provision that protected the Australian Education Providers and their representatives is likely to be amended and will allow students the right to change institutions without a release letter.
AAERI has pointed out that this will give rise to “touting” by onshore dodgy migration agents and by certain onshore private providers that have already been doing most of their international recruitment onshore only through offer of generous discounts and cash backs. Once the ESOS restriction is removed, this will further become common and the ones to lose will be the Australian Universities and their offshore representatives.
While AAERI recognises the right of a student as a customer and also recognises that there can be some genuine reasons for them seeking a switch, it draws the attention of policy makers to the practises in US and NZ. In US, while offshore commissions are being gradually allowed, commission for recruitment of International students already onshore is banned. In NZ, a few year back stiff restrictions have been placed to dissuade onshore agents from actively poaching students and this includes linking the visa to a provider, the first provider being able to retain upto 25% of the paid fees and now many of the institutions don’t pay commission to onshore agents if the switch is taking place during the first program of study itself.

AAERI has floated a petition (which has even been recommended recently by Australia’s influential newspaper THE AUSTRALIAN ) which demands ban on payment of commission for onshore recruitment of students. Especially during the first program of study. This will mean that there will be little incentive for the onshore migration agents to actively tout the student while allowing genuine students with the ability to switch if they have a reason for. THIS MUST BE PART OF THE ESOS RECOMMENDATIONS ALONG-WITH ACCREDITATION OF ONSHORE EDUCATION AGENTS.

MESSAGE TO THE EDUCATION PROVIDERS:

AAERI reminds education providers that the Australian Bachelor Degrees that are completed using a pathway diploma are not recognised as equal to Indian Bachelors. Thus this means that students who enrol in such programs are better off finding a way to settle down in Australia somehow since if they do return to India, they are not likely to able to ever enrol in an Indian Masters (like MBA), take a job with the Indian public service (like civil services), take a job with Indian banks (like POs) or with other pubic sector companies. Indian private employers mayn’t bother about the equivalence certificate but will anyone please point out any Indian leading private sector company that hire simple Bachelors. While the Government, Universities or Public Sector hire using an examination system that requires one to have a Bachelors, the foreign returned degree holders have to provide an equivalence certificate from AIU. This is where the issue comes up. These un-equal Bachelors students are not able to even enrol for another degree at the higher level in India too as then too they need to prove that the packaged program that they completed from Australia (Diploma to Degree) is actually equal to a Bachelors in India.

Australian Government has been lobbying with the Indian Government for recognition of such degrees as each year there are hundreds of affected returning students. However, I foresee no immediate understanding and outcome from the Indian MHRD.

The ethical dilemma is with the Education Providers who recruit students for Bachelor Degrees using the pathway option. Students enrolling are knowingly never told in advance of their admission that the program that they will study will not have the equivalence in India and apart from several type of jobs, the students can’t even enrol in regular Masters (even at low level Government Universities). To top it all, such students are assessed as being GTE (Genuine Temporary Entrant) requirement of the DIBP which means that they are proceeding to study in Australia with a clear intent to return to India after the studies. Now that such students (half of all Undergraduate students enrolling in Australia) are being recruited, is it not a requirement that the institutions that are travelling into India and recruiting actively (and even having offices in India) inform the student in advance.

AAERI members abide by the ESOS Act. Education Providers abide by the ESOS Act.

The ESOS act requires from Education Providers and I quote that :

Students must be provided with information that will enable them to make informed decisions about their studies in Australia.

Thus will it not be appropriate that prior to admitting or making an offer of place, the student is advised that while the packaged diploma leading to degree will enable a Bachelor Degree, it will not be a qualification that will be valid in India? (Though AAERI has not made a formal petition for this, I believe that since AAERI members and Education Providers have to abide by ESOS Act provision, they will do so for the best outcome of the student and for the best interest of Australian Education)

I did detail the above in my part of the AAERI mega event and it was the right forum to bring the burning issues out in open in front of the Department of Education and Training, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australian Trade Commission, 40+ Education Providers from Australia, Australian High Commissioner in India and others linked to the Industry. Australian Universities are of high standards and figure well in Global Rankings. They can attract students through clear and transparent message and without hiding facts from the students. I also believe that pathways are excellent second options and one day, the Indian policy makers will be wise enough to see the sense in them. Till then let us provide students with information that enable them to make informed decisions about their study in Australia.

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Also see my previous blogs on related topic:

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

US Higher Education Act prohibits payment of commission for onshore student recruitment and this is something that Australia must do if it wants to end poaching of students from Universities to lesser colleges onshore.

https://ravilochansingh.com/tag/recognition-of-foreign-degree-in-india/

https://ravilochansingh.com/2014/02/26/shocker-better-prepared-pathway-led-diploma-to-degree-returning-graduates-are-deemed-unfit-for-masters-study-in-india-india-aiu-needs-to-fix-itself-and-institutions-need-to-pre-warn-the-students/

and

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pathway-courses-face-recognition-troubles/article7855936.ece

http://www.hindustantimes.com/education/is-your-foreign-degree-valid-in-india/story-99nl0IvsLIIiEyS1fsbRzH.html

 

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.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in education

 

US Higher Education Act prohibits payment of commission for onshore student recruitment and this is something that Australia must do if it wants to end poaching of students from Universities to lesser colleges onshore.

According to the US’s 1992 Higher Education Act:

[An] institution will not provide any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on success in ensuring enrolments or financial aid to any persons or entities engaged in any student recruiting or admission activities or in making decisions regarding the award of student financial assistance, except that this paragraph shall not apply to the recruitment of foreign students residing in foreign countries who are not eligible to receive federal student assistance. (20 USC §1094(a)(20))

The above clearly indicates that payment of commission to education agents recruiting students offshore is permitted while for students who are already onshore is not. This is the way it should be.

In my earlier blog ( https://ravilochansingh.com/2016/08/05/australia-to-introduce-an-accreditation-for-education-agents-and-why-it-is-critical-that-it-succeeds-in-chaining-the-onshore-activities-of-agents-and-a-call-being-made-to-removereduce-commission-pay/ ) I have argued for commission for onshore recruitment be banned or reduced in Australia and the logic for that was simply that the argument for payment for offshore student recruitment didn’t apply in the case of onshore recruitment. I had argued in that blog that…

Frankly none whatsoever that justifies engaging an “onshore” agent for a student who is simply changing institutions for the same or similar program of study. There is no visa to be done and if there is a need for visa extension, it is an easy process that a student is often assisted by the institutions itself. If the student needs assistance with this easy process, they may pay the migration agent a small fee. The onshore agency is not doing any background check on the student as that is not being required from an onshore student. The engagement of the onshore agent with the student is also very brief unlike that of offshore agent. It is simply that of filling up an application form and emailing to the institution. There is no accommodation services or pre-departure guidance. No verification of documents. And none of the onshore agents are equipped to assist in anything further.

Do read my previous blog to learn how the onshore agents actually bring in unethical conduct in the trade and the poaching that happens is from established Universities to lesser colleges generally and increasingly using means such as “cash-back’

Returning to the example of the US regulations, it is a myth that commissions are not permitted at all. Many institutions have believed that too. However, the fact remains that (and as in the reading of the Higher Education Act quoted above), it is clear that the prohibition on payment for student recruitment doesn’t apply on student residing in foreign lands.

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), with 11,000 individual members, essentially takes a page from the HEA in its Statement of Principles and Good Practices (SPGP) in stating that all members agree that they will: “Not offer or accept any reward or remuneration from a secondary school, college, university, agency, or organization for placement or recruitment of students.” In 2013, this statement was also refreshed to make a differential between onshore and offshore recruitment of students. To quote from the media reporting on the change to the SPGP:

The assembly of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or the NACAC, voted 152:47 to revise its Statement of Principles of Good Practice and to allow international recruiters to be paid financial incentives for each student they sign up – something US universities are prohibited by law from doing when they enrol domestic students.

And giving the example from the US, I strengthen the message from my earlier blog differentiating the role of an offshore education representative from that of an onshore agent.

An offshore agent is actually “a representative of the University representing the interest of the University in an overseas location where they are not present”. However, the onshore agent is actually “a migration agent double dipping as an agent of the student finding a program to suit the client’s migration intentions and is located in the same location as the Institution”.

This is a major differential and thus I am now making a case for the payment for the service of the agent be made by the recipient of the service which in the case of offshore markets is the University while in the onshore locations is the student and so in other words am asking for a ban (or reduction) on payment of commission for onshore recruitment activity altogether.

Do note that I am talking more of the students being poached during their first program of study and mostly within the first year of the study in Australia. In my further blog I will detail how many Universities in NZ are beginning to modify their contracts to allow commission for second or further programs but not midway of the first program and how the NZ student visa label too indicates the program of first study with the institution. These are good practises for Australia to learn from.

 

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