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Author Archives: Ravi Lochan Singh

Immigration NZ attempts transparency and releases “Indian Education Agent” visa approval rate publicly on its website.

It seems that INZ is under pressure to become more transparent. A few weeks ago, I had blogged on the the documents sourced through the Official Informations Act where the list of education agents found to have submitted fraudulent documents was listed. That blog can be found on this link. I was also quoted in PIE News on that topic and that article is on this link.

However, it seems that Immigration NZ has become determined to pursue further transparency and has now released the visa approval rate for all agents publicly on its website.

While I take delight in finding my company in the top 10 agents based on visa success rate, I do believe that such moves can be used by some agencies for their marketing advantage and this might not be very productive. Visa success rates can vary between regions in the market. The earlier release of documents through the Official Secrets Act too has been used by a particular agency in North India which has put out posters in their offices already warning students from using the named agents.

As I indicated in my blog and my various articles, sometimes even a well meaning education agent can end up with a fraudulent document unknowingly.

However now that INZ has put out the list of agents on their website, I am provide the link to their site where one can find the downloadable list and also the most recent newsletter with student visa statistics for India (link).

Is such transparency helpful without any disclaimers? Absolutely no benefit of doubt?

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in education

 

25 years (1991-2016) of doing what I know best and now time to share the story on CNBC in India and detail the challenges for the industry on Radio 2GB in Australia.

Over the last decade, there have been several “so called” experts almost writing off the role of an education counsellor and assuming that internet is to replace the education agents exactly the way travel agents been sidelined by well designed travel booking portals. However they forgot to consider the issues around 1)conversions of online enquiry to enrolment for Universities, 2)Issues around document fraud for the visa departments and 3)level of difficulty with processes for a student. All these three aspects can’t simply be replaced by flashy and well designed IT solutions. Assistance by reputed and reliable education counsellors (middle-men) continues be required and today even the online queries received by Universities are being referred to education agents on the ground to vet. The challenge before the stakeholders is the need to be able to identify as to who is reputed and reliable. Though mere chasing of student numbers will always cloud their findings.

In September 1991, Global Reach took birth coinciding with the opening up of the Indian market. Next month, the company and the concept will be 25 years old.

Last few days has had me in the media talking about the Global Reach story and detailing our plans for the coming years. For those who want to see me at my immodest best, I provide the youtube link of a program that was aired on CNBC last week that featured me and GR as Icon of New India

 

To me sustenance of our sector is clearly the focus as we head into the next phase. However considering the external factors alongside the internal preparedness will be required. Last night, I was interviewed on Radio 2GB by Steve Price and Danny Bielik. Here I have talked about the challenges for Australian Education in the Indian Market and the issues that need to be fixed. I have shared why I believe Australia needs to treat the Indian students as customers. Post Study Work has been offered but employers have not been advised that such international students on 485 subclass visa are eligible for full time work.

The interview can be found on the link below…

http://www.2gb.com/audioplayer/191566

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Immigration NZ released documents under the OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACT details the Education Loan fraud in India. I believe that it is not just NZ but even Australia, UK, Canada and US that is receiving such concocted documents.

Information RELEASED UNDER THE OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACT by IMMIGRATION NZ this day exposes the extent of the abuse of EDUCATION LOANS option by Hyderabad based agencies. The information details several bank managers and their involvement and then also lists 57 agencies (in the factsheet towards the end). The document also lists agencies from North India including  a few ENZRA agents (though indicating only 1-2 cases to have slipped through their hands) to have submitted such forged education loan disbursal letters. It is possible that 1-2 such documents may slip through the system and it is also possible that the agent is not involved in this fraud even if the lodged application is through them. However, if the instances are repeated and if there is a trend, it is a major area of concern. Thus the factsheet lists about 8 agencies with significant number of cases.  I note that the investigations is ongoing in all the previously lodged applications of all agents.

Education Loans are used by 80% of Indian students desiring to study overseas and it will be unfair to generalise the observations from Hyderabad across India. The modus operandi followed in the information released indicates:

THE FRAUD TACTIC

The tactic used by all involved agents was to obtain a genuine education loan sanction letter from a bank (which passed verification), then after visa approval-in-principal (AIP) to submit a fraudulent education loan disbursal letter ostensibly from the same bank. Funds from another (hidden) source would then be transferred to NZ to pay tuition fees. It is likely that these sources wound not have been acceptable had they been presented because they did not link to the evidence previously verified as genuine, and as claimed for the intended use in NZ.

Read the full details in the documents attached in this blog.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016, 9:21 am

Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party I
Iain Lees-Galloway

MP for Palmerston North

Immigration Spokesperson

MEDIA STATEMENT
22 June 2016

15 corrupt bank managers identified in student fraud

New information show 15 bank managers in India have been identified by Immigration New Zealand as presenting fraudulent documents on behalf of foreign students studying here, Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says.

“Documents obtained by Labour under the Official Information Act show bank managers doctored genuine information which was then used by education agents to prove students had the funds to pay for their New Zealand tuition (see INZ No Surprises Factsheet attached).

“This fraud is so widespread, Immigration NZ officials say “there has been no agent we’ve looked at that hasn’t been using it, to some extent or another’ (see INZ Fraud Penetration Email attached). There are more than 1000 education agents operating in India.

“The Government was warned in 2012 that New Zealand’s international education sector was rife with rorts. Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse continue to turn a blind eye to this fraud because the sector is so lucrative.

“These documents confirm hundreds – possibly thousands – of students have arrived in New Zealand with these fraudulent papers.

“These people are desperate for a New Zealand education to better the lives of their families back in India. They are vulnerable and being preyed on by unscrupulous education agents and bank managers who are making money out of them.

“Now hundreds of students here face mass deportation if they can’t prove they have the money they claimed to have on their original study applications.

“The Government must take urgent action to protect these students from being exploited and protect New Zealand’s international reputation as a fair and honest country,” Iain Lees-Galloway says.

The above media release states that “This fraud is so widespread, Immigration NZ officials say “there has been no agent we’ve looked at that hasn’t been using it, to some extent or another’ (see INZ Fraud Penetration Email attached). I read this to refer to the agents under investigation and from the Hyderabad region and not referring to all agents in India.

Information RELEASED UNDER THE OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACT can be found on links below:

INZ_Fraud_Penetration_Email

INZ_No_Surprises_Factsheet

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Why only/mostly “Hyderabad” students tend to get deported from USA? What’s amiss is the recruitment model that has distanced this region from rest of the country.

 

India is frequently abuzz with media reports on Indian students being deported from various US Universities. The intriguing commonality is that the bulk of such affected students are from “Hyderabad” and have often been recruited by “certain” Universities desperate to fill their lagging international student targets.

I also believe that the US Universities need to take greater responsibility “for their own actions”.

Just this week, there has been news of 25 Hyderabadi students having been asked to leave after one semester of study at Western Kentucky University. The immediate interpretation by several commentators was to put the blame on the recruiting agents. I am not privy to all information but from what I could read, I find it uncomfortable that an attempt to find a scapegoat is once again being made. The agent from all my summary research has only acted as per the advice of the International Office of the University.

We need to be aware that there are two types of recruitment representatives: The first is the one who is engaged by the University and thus is accountable to the University. This “agent” is the “agent” of the University on the ground. Hence it will be misleading to give an impression that the University has accepted any and every student recommended by the agent. The agent tends to be briefed by the University in advance on the type of student being scoped and then the agent releases advertising “in consultation with the University” and the admission decision tends to be solely of the University only. The second type of “agent” is the free-lancer who is charging the student a fee and dresses the application in a way that an “un-contracted” University admit the student. It will be improper to generalise that all “agents” of either the categories are ethical or unethical. The University is expected to do their due diligence before appointing the agency and if we go by the example of the leading Australian or UK Universities, the mechanism is already in place. The free-lancers are in my opinion more likely to engage in unethical practises as they are not accountable to the Universities in any way.

Now let us come back to the issue of cancellation of enrolment of the Hyderabadi students in the case of WKU. While the Indian media reports at this stage tend to be unsure as to whether the fault lies with the University or with the agent. My take is that the students were recruited by the University through a contracted agent. The students were of poor quality unable to succeed in the program of study but then once again, they were admitted by the admission team of the University. The recruitment process may have been hasty and too desperate to issue “language test waivers” or to accept students with “no programming background” for computing programs but then this was solely the fault of the University. To find the fault in the recruitment agent or in the fully system of recruitment through education agents, is not the answer to the issue at large.

Two months ago, New York Times reported (find the article on this link ):

“Hurry Up!!!” the online posting said. “Spot Admissions” to Western Kentucky University. Scholarships of up to $17,000 were available, it added. “Letter in one day.” The offer, by a college recruiter based in India, was part of a campaign so enticing that more than 300 students swiftly applied to a college that many had probably never heard of.

More than 8,000 miles away, at Western Kentucky, professors were taken by surprise when they learned last fall of the aggressive recruitment effort, sponsored by their international enrollment office. Word began to spread here on campus that a potential flood of graduate students would arrive in the spring 2016 semester.

The problem — or one of them — was that many of the students did not meet the university’s standards, faculty members said, and administrators acknowledged.

Now, if you go through the link you will find that the focus of the article is on named recruitment agents and their reported mis-information. However, my basic point is that the agent may have created an attraction for the institution but the agent has not approved the admission. The University can’t wish away their desperate recruitment and lowered admission requirements by tilting the focus on the agent itself.

Continuing with the WKU example and to dig deep in the role of the University, I have accessed the minutes of the meeting of the University senate on their India Pilot Project (the minute can be found on this link). There is a clear acknowledgement that the University has had an active role in the drama and thus need to take full responsibility.

The minutes of the meeting on Page 5 indicate that:

  • Aggressive recruiting by the International Enrollment Office led to a number of letters that suggested direct admission. 

  • In addition, the website advertised that there would be a 24-hour turnaround for admission. 

  • There was no application fee required and there was a scholarship promise. 

  • The question is whose decision is it on admitting graduate students? 

  • No one was put on the list until they were screened for GPA and a baccalaureate degree. 

  • The graduate school took the position of letting departments decide which students to admit. 

  • There is some pressure on departments to admit students who are not yet ready to do the work. These students will take one English course and departments will accept responsibility for their success. 

  • Regent Burch asked to what extent do we want quantity vs. quality? She added that it is a moral and ethical issue. 


The senate minutes (read the full minutes on this link) makes a very interesting reading. The University faculties seem to be blaming their admissions and international division for lowering the admission standards. I didn’t find sufficient reference in the University’s internal discussions to cast blame on the agent. The University too didn’t accept all the students recommended for admission by the recruitment agent. Let me share another quote from the minutes that is quite pertinent.

Richey wants it to be on the record that, as Student Body President, he believes “it is ethically and academically wrong to bring students into this university—to take their money—and let them believe that they can be successful when we have nothing in place to make sure they are successful. That’s why we have admissions standards. This does not pertain to every single student admitted through this project, but it needs to be said even if it applies to only one.”

These quotes are bits and pieces and may be considered incomplete contextually and thus do study the full minutes.

In the article in NY Times, the agent has stated that they had dealt with Western Kentucky for years, but that the recent India project was the first time the university had sent its own employees “on site in India doing evaluations on the spot.” The idea of “spot admission” was to eliminate long waiting times.

To me the WKU case is of an institution that has deliberately lowered the admission criteria and has adopted an even more aggressive stance to recruit student numbers and now that the students recruited are of low quality, a scapegoat will be found.

My blog is not to engage in a blame game. I am still focussed on why the affected students at each instance tends to be from Hyderabad. Is there something dramatically wrong in the recruitment strategy adopted in Hyderabad and also in the very nature of the students. Allow me to list a few peculiarities that I came across:

  1. Hyderabadi students, like those from Punjab and Gujarat, have a desire to study overseas and settle overseas thereafter. However, bulk of those in Hyderabad have undertaken an engineering bachelor degree from low quality institutions. This fact that they have a four-year undergraduate qualification (albeit with many backlogs) and possessing a desire to cross the border, makes them a unique fit for US institutions of low rank.
  2. Visa process for several countries (non US) has tightened and there is greater check on documents to weed out non-genuine submissions. US visa process on the other hand has eased in recent years and thus the fraud and fake documents too tends to slip through the system. This makes US as an ideal destination for those with weak documentation. When the US Consulate in Hyderabad tightened the visa grants following the instances of deportation of students, the students started appearing for the visa interviews in Chennai or in Mumbai.
  3. US recruitment agents in Hyderabad work on a unique business model. The services offered by them are at competitive pricing and thus the focus is largely on volume of students who can be put through the system than on the quality. For a difference as low as $10 between the agent service fees charged by the agency, students have been known to switch their preferred counsellor.
  4. Bulk of the students are aspiring for low quality institutions with low admission requirements. This suits all parties. US is often perceived socially as the right destination to settle and further education becomes the pathway. More importantly, very few understand that US has some really poor quality Universities too and very few are ending up at an institution that figures in top 500 in the world.

I continue to maintain that while US has some of the BEST Universities in the world that are extremely difficult to get admitted in, US also has the WORST Universities in the world that can be admitted into by just about anyone.

So what is the way out: It’s simple. Look at the Australian system and learn from it. Insist on admitting students who have at-least met the basic English and academic proficiency to complete a program of study. Consider the stature of the degree completed by the student in India and also student’s performance in the degree. The fact that the US Universities have been known to admit students with poor English and negligible programming background in postgraduate engineering and computing programs is a very good example of a recipe for disaster. Are these Universities really keen to impart quality education to able international students or simply encouraging human movement across borders and on planes?

As a closing remark, do be reminded of the issues around Tri Valley University, years ago. And be reminded of the issues around students being sent back from the US Border post despite holding valid visas last year. And now this reporting on the WKU. All (or most) affected students are from Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh. There is a need for Institutions and the Government Agencies to take note of the malaise. There is also a need for Universities to work only with contracted representatives as then they can make the representatives accountable. And there is a need to ensure that generalisations are not drawn.

And the US’s Visa Granting bodies should require that those residing in Hyderabad or Andhra Pradesh/Telangana appear for the visa interviews only in Hyderabad as then it will be easier for the visa officer to understand the background. US Visa Mechanism is faulty and full of loop holes. I am hearing reports of non-genuine students from one high-risk region of India deliberately working the system in a way that they are appearing for visa interviews from low-risk regions of the India.

US needs to fix the system than to find scapegoat in the agent or the fact that education agents have an agenda even when contracted. We need to remember that even if the University doesn’t engage an agent, almost all students are taking advise from agents or counsellors. If such agents or counsellors are not contracted, then there is no way for the University to initiate a code of conduct on them making the counsellor accountable.

Bodies such as AIRC (American International Recruitment Council) are making efforts in regulating education agents. I believe that their system too is short as it has admitted undeserving agencies in the fold but instead of running out AIRC, I rather hope that the shortcomings in their vetting process be fixed to ensure that only suitable (and small number) of agencies make the grade.

 

“The naivety and gullibility of Bhutanese will be tested yet again.” An excellent letter to the editor exposes the truth beyond the hype on the opening of the VFS centre in Bhutan.

The Australian visa process – Myth and Truth

Letter to the Editor of Kuensel by Pema Tasha is being reproduced here.

The naivety and gullibility of Bhutanese will be tested yet again. The recent news in Kuensel heralding the arrival of the Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC), and the manner in which the article made it sound like Australian visas will now become easy to obtain is expected to create another rush for destination Australia.

In sharp contrast, the truth is far from what was written in Kuensel. Bhutanese never had to travel to New Delhi to apply for an Australian Visa. Australia is one country where the pains of the visa applicant is sympathised and saved by not having to make the arduous and expensive trip to the visa processing centre (AHC, New Delhi for Bhutanese).

Instead, Bhutanese mailed their visa applications through courier service providers such as DHL and FedEx, and if the visa officer deemed it necessary during the course of assessment, a telephonic verification of the applicant is conducted. Bhutanese never spent Nu 60,000 when applying for an Australian visa.

Further, it was not necessary for Bhutanese to submit biometric data when filing for an Australian Visa until the arrival of an AVAC in the country. This is now an extra hurdle in the visa application process which was not applicable to Bhutanese hitherto. The Biometric data collection is here to stay, like it or not as this is now a mandatory requirement.

The other fact of AVAC charges will speak for itself as illustrated in the comparative charges table.

It is obvious that for the Bhutanese, the Australian visa just got dearer. What is highly dubious and questionable is why are the AVAC charges for Bhutan so much higher as compared to India and Nepal.

Another fact the Bhutanese must know is that at present a primary applicant and his dependent can submit their application together in one package if they intend to apply together. Therefore, they pay for only one package when they send in their visa application to AHC, New Delhi through DHL and FedEx.

The following is an excerpt from AHC, New Delhi Website (http://india.highcommission.gov.au/ndli/pa1616.html)

“Biometric data will also be collected by the AVAC through a quick, discreet and a non-intrusive process that captures a facial image and a 10-digit fingerprint scan on a dry scanner machine. Visa applicants who mail their applications to the Australian High Commission in New Delhi or to the AVAC in Thimphu, or who submit their application online will be sent a letter requiring them to attend the AVAC, in person, to provide their biometrics. Biometrics will be collected from visa applicants, irrespective of their nationality, who are in Bhutan at the time of making a visa application to enter Australia and may be requested for applicants usually resident in Bhutan but applying elsewhere.”

From the above, it is evident that Bhutanese can still send in their applications directly to AHC, New Delhi. However, applicants will now need to submit biometric data which is available only at the Etho Metho AVAC in Bhutan.

Therefore, the Etho Metho VAC must provide service rate for “Only Biometrics” for those applicants who wish to submit their visa application through other means. The AHC, New Delhi doesn’t dictate that all visa applications should be routed through Etho Metho VAC. If an applicant wishes to use Etho Metho AVAC only for biometrics, then the service charges should be defined separately for “Only Biometrics” which should not include other charges.

To the discerning, the fees imposed by the AVAC in Bhutan as compared to our neighbors are simply exorbitant and unacceptable. And fellow Bhutanese, please be informed that the presence of AVAC in Bhutan doesn’t guarantee visa success. The visa application will still be assessed by visa officers in AHC, New Delhi.

The success of the visa application is entirely dependent on how well you have justified your case with reliable documentary evidences. Also of relevance to enlighten the Bhutanese here is that AVAC is not an Australian government entity. It is a private business institution appointed as service delivery partner for Department of Immigration and Border Protection of Australia. These service charges are not dictated by the Australian Government, and therefore the stark disparity.

To put things in perspective, an individual applying for Australian visa paid the applicable visa fees plus courier charges of about Nu 3,500 before the arrival of AVAC in Bhutan. A couple applying for Australian visa still paid the applicable visa fee for a couple plus courier charges of about Nu 3,500 since they would file the application together.

With the arrival of AVAC, a single applicant will now pay Nu 7,260 in addition to applicable visa fees. A couple will now pay Nu 12,356 (Nu 7,260 plus Nu 5,096) in addition to applicable visa fees. It is still cheaper if you consider the imaginary Nu 60,000 that Bhutanese spent as per the Kuensel article. Otherwise, I cannot see how the Australian visa got easier and cheaper. Regardless of whether an applicant files his visa application on his own, he will still end up paying the above-mentioned fees hereon as applicants must visit AVAC for submission of biometric data. This is simply taking advantage of the situation.

The government must intervene and ensure that the Etho Metho AVAC does not charge unreasonably for the biometric services now made mandatory for Bhutanese, albeit for whose benefit.

The letter to the editor of the Kuensel can be found on this link.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Notes from #NAFSA2016 Annual Conference: A big B2B “mela” exhibiting the wide education umbrella, “Indian” presence and “maturing” education agents.

As I tap into my notebook onboard the flight back to India, I can’t help but reflect on how the education “trade” has evolved over the last 2.5 decades. From being a non-business to becoming clearly a market driven and marketing focussed industry with a wide range of unimaginable ancillary business ranging from those running study tours, recruitment fairs, gap year programs to those who are into finding accommodation and even those who help students get tax refunds. For any with anything to do with education as an industry, a visit to the NAFSA annual conference is a must-do. I wonder why I took so long to attend one myself.

IMG_0016

@NAFSA Annual Conference 2016 in Denver…

Meeting with colleagues from all over and from across many educational institutions was my first goal and I must admit that I was only partly satisfied in this. I may have over-expected as was hoping to see some of the better ranked US institutions but clearly they had better things to do than attend the event. It may also be entirely possible and probable that most US institutions are continuing to live in a world that believes that education is not a trade. Honestly, most are struggling with funds too or are lost in their idealism. The arguments pertaining to use of education middle-men too is often interpreted variously in USA.

My involvement at the conference had to do with two agent regulating associations and I continue to believe that both can gain from a closer intelligence share between them.

AIRC (American International Recruitment Council) took birth several years ago and I must confess (a little immodestly) that I have had a role to play in that. My company was chosen as the first agency for the pilot and even prior to that, I have been on committees and involved in brainstorming sessions leading to the formation. However, I have not been too actively involved in recent years apart from being a member. This has to do with slightly reduced US focus within my company and also my lethargy + dislike for long tiring travels. I wish I had not dithered from my active role though as I find that in recent years several low-morals agencies have found a way into the body from the sub-continent. I know these agencies first hand and also from my involvement with AAERI and they have managed to fool the membership criterion of AIRC by dressing the documents. However, I believe that this is part of the evolution of any body and hopefully with my inputs from the session this year, AIRC will take some precautions in the future.

 

IMG_0004.JPG

At the Global Reach space within the AIRC booth (with Ratan Mukherjee)

AAERI (Association of Australian Education Representatives in India) took a booth to brand and highlight the role of AAERI. The stand was right opposite the section reserved for the Australian providers and I believe that it was the right thing to do in AAERI’s 20th year. Several Education providers appreciated the branding effort and the fact that the booth was handing out a list of its members and its code of ethics. What was more interesting was that there were US Universities seeking out the AAERI member list as a guide to the agents that they may appoint in the Indian market. I also found a greater appreciation for Australian Education providers and the way they deal with commission based recruitment including monitoring the appointed education representatives especially in South Asia.

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@ AAERI booth and with the AAERI Exec team (Kishore, Rupesh, Rahul, Bubbly and myself). It was also heartening to see several AAERI members participating and also exhibiting.

There are a few times when an Indian simply feels proud in a foreign land. While in Australia, that happens when we go out to cheer for the Indian cricket team especially when it wins a game. Each time that we see the tri-colour and when we hear the Jana-Gana-Mana being sung. A similar feeling, I got when I saw the well-presented “India” section at the NAFSA. Well done Maheshwar Peri and the Careers-360 team… I would only hope that next year, there will be some more prominent Indian institutions participating at the event. It is not a recruitment fair alone and thus the institutions have a lot to gain through such participation.

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Apart from the various observations and experiences that I take back with me, it was a personal joy to catch up with Sushil, my partner-in-crime from University days to the initial years of the business when we actually partnered.

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25 years of our businesses but more than 25 years of friendship… (Had we not thought of the idea in our shared student accommodation, he may have been making time-pieces in Spain and I may have been in publishing in Patna…)

It is important for me to document here briefly on how my initiation in this industry took place and why I credit Sushil in equal measure.

GLOBAL REACH traces its root to on-campus discussions between three MBA students at Bond University in Australia. Returning to India, as the first set of alumni for a new University, they identified an opportunity for applying learnt marketing education: Representing overseas educational institutions at a time when the Indian Economy was about to embrace globalisation. One of the three is myself as Managing Director of Global Reach. Of the other two, Mr Sushil Sukhwani and Mr Shiv Kumar, Mr Sukhwani went on to establish Nivea International that later changed its name to Edwise International, another leading education agency, headquartered in Mumbai.

That was in 1991.

Post Script:

Seeing two prominent education agencies introduce their next generation in their businesses through attendance at their stalls was very satisfying. This was an evidence that what was a mere experiment in 90s without any certainty for it developing into an industry by itself, has established itself and has a future beyond the 2.5 decades. The next generation appeared to be well educated (or currently gaining academic credentials) and also being gradually trained.

The view of Mount Rainier this morning as I approached Seattle after heading out of Denver enroute to India…

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Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Emerging details on proposed SSVF (to come into effect from July 2016) has thrown a major surprise. Nepal at Risk AL2 along-with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, while India is a riskier AL3. It however solves one big headache regarding acceptability of banks for Nepal…

DIBP has put out the online tool by which by matching the University name with source country, one can find out if the student visa application will be streamlined. Since yesterday, many have been busy “breaking the code”.

The link is here

The matrix is being provided below:

IMG_9868

DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS POST CAN BE INACCURATE AND THUS THE COMMENTS HERE MAY BE ONLY TAKEN AS MY OBSERVATIONS. PLEASE DON’T BASE YOUR STRATEGIES ON THIS. 

It appears that for the sub-continent:

India is AL3 while Nepal/Bangladesh/Sri Lanka are all AL2 at this time.

  • While my Indian pride is a little bruised especially noticing that China is at surprising AL1. (Thankfully, Pakistan has not been given that privilege of a better-than-India AL to impart this bruise.), I am particularly delighted for Nepal having made it to AL2 as it will overcome a practical and continuing difficulty.
    • DIBP’s Delhi post has had a limited list of acceptable banks for Nepal for non-SVP applications currently which could not be expanded beyond the current 2 banks due to various compulsions but under streamlining (current SVP), it  permitted institutions to accept financial documents from several other banks which appeared to be more compliant. Visas too have been granted for streamlined applicants using additional banks. Had Nepal been AL3, for all non-AL1 Universities, the applications would become non-streamlined and thus they would have had to only accept funds from only 2 banks. Now that Nepal is AL2, all AL1 and AL2 institutions will be able to have their applications streamlined and thus “possibly” be able to accept additional banks. This is a respite.

It also appears that:

  • None of the Universities are AL3. Thankfully.
    • From the sub-continent, this means that All Universities can have their applications streamlined for Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
    • Indian applications for AL1 Institutions will be streamlined while for AL2 Universities will be regular/non-streamlined.

Several have used the online tool and worked out the list of institutions in AL1 and AL2. I notice:

  • 19 Universities are apparently in AL1. This is significant though the list has some surprises. A new University has also made it possibly due to no adverse track record.
  • None of the Universities in AL 1 have franchised/licensed campuses in other cities within Australia. This can be an indicator of sorts.

I will let you “break the code” (which is easy and the list with AL of institution is already being circulated in social media) though DIBP doesn’t want the institutions to share the AL standing with the agents. I wonder how it is expected that such information can be kept hidden when the industry mechanism works so differently. Education Agents are an important part of the process and while there are good and bad agents, as there are good and bad institutions, Universities do rely on agents for their recruitment of students.

 In its General Information Factsheet for Education Providers, DIBP indicated:

The Department does not recommend the sharing of education provider immigration risk data with external parties, including agents, because it may increase the potential for the education provider to be targeted by non-genuine applicants…

SSVF continues to be a developing story though in summary at this stage, I feel:

  • With GTE staying as the key ammunition in the hand of the DIBP to approve or deny visas even if they are from Universities under streamlining and even if the financials etc are in the order, I find that SSVF is really nothing much different to previous experiments.
  • And I feel that the local DIBP posts will continue to have their own “local-interpretations” and will continue to seek out the financials for many streamlined applicants too. For example: Does anyone believe that for say even Nepal which is AL2 and thus all University applications are to be streamlined, any student will get a visa without evidencing the Financials to DIBP?

The biggest stumbling block in the rollout of SSVF, yet to be comfortably sorted continues to be the issue of “online visa fee payments”. In countries in the sub-continent, the local forex regulations and also the limited access to international credit or debit cards will remain a bother. And will further highlight the role of education agents as the Universities and DIBP will expect the agents to hand-hold the student through this hurdle for sure.

I ALSO RECOMMEND THAT YOU REFER TO MY EARLIER BLOG ON SSVF.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
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