Foreign education consultants – what you need to know

Just a few days ago, a leading publication carried an article warning of the perils of Indian students left in the lurch by a foreign university. It complained about dodgy university scams that affect foreign students abroad. Fair enough – that sort of bogus universities annoys me too. And not all universities aim to cheat. But the article brings attention to argue the fact that the brokerage of student enrolments by foreign universities creates a student enrolment grey market that mislead and misinform.

Arguably, the pursuit of a foreign degree and the pleasure of walking into an education counsellor’s office should be kept separate in the same way as church and state. And here, I couldn’t disagree more.

Higher education is a costly affair, and most importantly the student’s future depends on it. There are bigger costs when it comes to seeking admission to a university overseas. Many would agree, the costs towards a Masters degree program in India is generally about 30 – 40 per cent lower than the ‘preferred destinations’ abroad.

Now the most obvious question arises – Why? Because unlike in India, getting admitted to a foreign university is often facilitated by a ‘consultant’,  earning them a high mark up simply for filling a seat in an institution of higher learning abroad, increasing the tuition costs – sometimes up to 40 per cent higher.

One of the things that matters most to me is that people should be themselves. No one should feel obliged to adopt a particular process or put on a status quo issue. So here is my suggestion: if you want to seek a foreign university program and are hell bent on it, do a due diligence check on the student counsellor you meet next. Arm yourself with the knowledge that often the most ‘preferred’ universities are not necessarily the ones that suit your needs rather they could be the ones that offer a greater profit margin to the counsellor.

Know that the tuition fees you pay to the foreign university, a percentage of these come back to the counsellor that has helped you seek an admission!

Have you ever been to one of those all-day exhibitions where in you can simply walk-in and meet a foreign university official, and walk out with a ‘Letter of Admission’. Exhibitions hosted by their Indian representatives usually held in fancy hotels?

Be very careful of marketing gimmicks that offer on the spot admissions. ‘On the Spot’ admissions offer a conditional admission.  ‘Conditions applied’ is a marketing gimmick that offers no immediate value to the student. Instead, it is an offer made without a promise.

I believe many of the best things happen when prospecting and convenience are mixed – over a streamlined process, for instance. Must recruitment be conducted solely in such lavish grandeur to entice students? Why such extravagance at the indirect cost to students? Foreign universities often engage in enrolment drives overseas visiting many countries to source student enrolments and offer on-the-spot admissions. It is an offer made, when the offer actually does not exist. Well known and state funded universities do not have to go out and seek students for enrolment, only the lesser known ones do.

There are of course some interesting variations to how student enrolments happen – and it seems to me that on the whole it is just an exhaustive affair. But there’s a deep routed effect to these practices – students often end up paying admission fees to multiple foreign universities in the hope of getting a confirmed seat and consequently are recipients of multiple (I-20) immigration documents, allowing them to switch to a different college on arrival. God forbid if the university turns out to be a fraudulent one!

We can not afford another Tri Valley or UNVA scam where hundreds of students get duped and are stranded jeopardizing their immigration status.

Can the process of prospecting and recruiting for students enrolments be done otherwise? What are your thoughts?


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