“International students do not have to use an education agent. You can enrol directly with an Australian education institution. Information about what education institutions offer is usually on their websites. If you want to use an education agent, it’s best to pick one used by the institution you want to study at. You can find a list of education agents on the institution’s website.”
– Department of Education and Training Website, Australian Government
With unprecedented popularity of overseas education in the current world, the significance of overseas educational agencies/consultants/counselors of the agents has tremendously increased. Particularly the role of educational agents as intermediaries in the entire process from applying to the university to getting the final approval have been profoundly important with rising aspiration for study abroad programs.
Ranging from offering advice, counseling to placement assistance for prospective students, education agents help students realize their dream of an international degree in the most effective and efficient manner. Although the use of agents is a standard practice across the world, controversies have emerged pertaining to their role.
Whether education agents really facilitate students’ requirement has remained debatable in the field of international education for long. While there are some who say that such agents alleviate students’ problems by offering free counseling service and minimum processing charges of documentation, others are critical of their profit maximizing role often deceiving the students.
Of late, various news stories of consultancies taking hefty fees for admitting international students to ‘black-listed’ universities have become rampant highlighting the plights of students. Equally worrisome is the issue of ‘fake visa guarantee’ which is still gaining greater currency among the educational agents as an instrument of accumulating profit by leaving students in serious trouble.
Australia is emerging as the top destination for international students after USA and UK. The improved quality of life, safe and vibrant communities and world-class educational opportunities among others make Australia one of the most sought-after countries for getting a globally renowned academic degree.
Enrollment into Australian universities is a cumbersome process requiring the understanding of various systems and processes of university admission and government policies, which is beyond the comprehension of international students as they tend to possess knowledge only in their field of study. Thus, the role of education agents has been on rise in the international education discourse.
An Australian Government website (Australian Trade Commission) provides the following tips for choosing an agent:
- Under Australian Government law, every Australian education institution that uses the services of an education agent needs to have a contract with that organisation.
- Australian education institutions usually have more than one education agent appointed in a country so speak to more than one agent – collect and compare information.
- Under Australian Government law, every Australian education institution has to list on their website every education agent it has appointed to represent them in each country.
- Choose an education agent with experience helping students study in Australia – they will have a good knowledge of the Australian education system, visas and life in Australia.
- Make sure that the agent is an authorised representative of the institution that you want to apply to. You can ask to see their letter of appointment from the institutions if you want.
- Ask about any fees that may be levied for using their services.
- Have a third party or friend help you understand the documents before you sign any documents.
- Remember, education agents cannot guarantee a permanent visa or work placement in Australia after you graduate. Their job is to help with applications, so if it sounds too good to be true, keep looking. A reputable agent will be honest about the application process.
In view of the above, following are the ways in which education agents can assist international students wanting to study in Australia:
International students often approach the education agents amid a lot of confusion. In most cases, students are unsure as to what subjects they should choose from which University. According to Prakash Neupane, senior counselor at Expert Education and Visa Services, based in Kathmandu said “genuine education agents first try and understand the potentialities of students and then suggest them for the best study options. Student’s academic background, previous skills and competencies, and career aspirations are important aspects that education agents should know in advance before offering any advice about the choice of course and university”, he further said.
More importantly, certified education agents help in completing documentation process in short time. The expertise these agents have can be of great help to students who want to make a rigorous study before choosing the best university and best course of study
For the majority of the international students coming from Asia, Information Technology (IT), Accounting, and Management are among the popular courses in Australia. For more details on the choice of the subject studies click here. However, it doesn’t imply that social sciences and humanities have limited scope. Ultimately, it depends on the ability of students to envision where a particular course can lead him/her to.
One of the great concerns for the international students is to obtain a visa. In this regard, education agents have a crucial role to disseminate the accurate information about visa procedures.
In general, a genuine student with strong academic credential and a good English score is unlikely to get rejected for studying at Australian Universities. Here, your education agent should be able to offer necessary information this.
Students coming from different parts of the world find it difficult to adjust to the new environment in their destination countries. To ease their adjustment, education agents have the responsibility of giving a general overview of the culture, norms, and values to the newly arrived students.
So, the role of education agents can’t only be confined to academic counseling but needs to be elevated to a level of socio-culture, economic and political orientations by which students can better understand their host country and prepare accordingly. Helping to link international students to the diaspora of the respective countries is a great thing.
The constant challenge prospective international students face is related to the choice of the best education agents. Choosing experienced education agents duly certified by the universities is a must to get into Australian universities. Knowing about the fees that such agents charge and cross-checking it with other similar institutions will be beneficial for students to get quality service at an affordable charge.
International students may seek the assistance of education agents for a permanent visa or placement assistance even after they finish their studies. But it is important to keep in mind that education agents can’t guarantee such visas. They can simply offer help in visa application process.
As per the Australian law, an education agent can’t offer the service of a migrant agent until he/she is a registered migration agent. So, students need to be cautious of seeking migration related advice only for certified professionals instead of going to education agents for everything.
As an international student, you need to have an in-depth study your potential education agents by their success stories and reputation in the market. This in an important key for your informed decision based on available data and information before evidence and rather jumping to someone in haste.