Get help from your education agent but don’t let them decide your future!

Get help from your education agent but don’t let them decide your future!

Deciding a career option is one of the most daunting and challenging tasks for you if you are planning your university education. Students in the developing world often dream of studying abroad after finishing the school. Particularly challenging is when you are trying to choose the right subjects to study in the right University. A large number of students rely on education agents or consultants and simply follow the advice of these agents.

Not all education agents are as good as they are thought to be. You could be a nightmare if you end up with a university that is not suitable for you, as you will be compelled to study the subjects that are not of interests to you.

Here are some tips for you to avoid this nightmare and to enable you to command your study on your own. 10 tips presented below with some real stories (anonymized) that might help you to think and act as you step forward in advancing your education.

Tip 1: The low-cost option does not always work.

Often the education agents advise low-cost options in relation to the choice of University and subjects. This is a common mistake made by agents resulting in heavy consequences for the students.

You should keep in mind that the cheapest option is not always the best; you should remain open to options irrespective of the price. High-priced courses and the University may be a better fit for you as you may be able to find a better job in that subject area. Paying a little more at the beginning could make a big difference on the quality of your education and enhance your employability after you finish your study.

One international student, I met in Sydney ended up with a wrong choice of the university and the course. After landing in Sydney, he realized that the university he attends does not have a good reputation and the subject suggested by the education agent also did not match his future aspirations to migrate to Australia.

Story 1: A couple of thousand dollars more would not have been a problem for me finding the right courses and the right university will make all the differences but I did not get proper advice from my agent at the time of my university enrolment. Now I am paying the cost of it.

Tip 2: Don’t choose a University location simply because the agent recommended you!

The location of your university town may have a significant impact on your study and your student life. If you let others decide, it may not always in your favour. Not all the education agents are bad but their strategy to suggest the right courses and the right University location may not always match with your requirements. Here is an example of how a student had to enroll in a remotely located University when an agent wanted to maximize his revenue (Universities offer differential rates of commission to education agents). The higher commission rate offered by the University motivated this agent to do so. It was the student who suffered most:

Story 2: It’s been a nightmare for me to figure out the location of my University which is quite far from Sydney, although I had been advised that it is in Sydney. I had made a plan to come to Sydney where I can do part-time work and my spouse can do full time. However, as my agent put me in a different city where it is almost impossible to find a job. It’s been a challenge for me to manage my cost of living and tuition fees.

In addition, if you are a female student with small kid (s), the location with easy access to the kindergarten is important for you.

Tip 3: Don’t choose your course of studies in haste!

Like the choice of University and its location, selecting the right courses is a vital thing to think through in advance. You have enormous options to choose your course of studies from around 12,000 courses that Australian Universities offer every year. Be aware of the great choices well in advance before you jump into some particular courses. Be aware it is you (not your education agent) to suffer if you are not been able to find a good fit between your career interests and the course of studies.

Tip 4: Accepting your agent’s wrong advice can force you into sleepless nights  

Often international students are told, “The most important part is to have your feet on Australian soil. After that, everything will just flow smoothly and click into place.” This is the most saleable statement drilled into the heads of all students who plan to study in Australia.

A student who was incorrectly enrolled in a subject that was not of his interest disclosed:

Story 3: My first semester went well but I realised the harsh reality when I completed my first semester with very bad marks and even failed some subjects, which was a too bad experience for me.  Now, I regret but it’s already too late. I just relied too heavily on my agent and did nothing on my side. If I was exposed to all this information this site offers, I would choose my subjects more wisely.

Tip 5: Don’t assume an Australian degree always brings cross-cultural learning

Choosing the right subjects does not always work if your University environment is not good to optimize your learning.

Story 4: I was enrolled in subjects that I was interested in but the University was not good in terms of the mixture of the students. The University is modest in terms of tuition fees that is what my agent took care more than any other things. As an international student, I wanted to maximize my cultural learning and English language competency as I am interested in staying in Australia after I finish my study. But, I ended up in a class with more than 60% of the students coming from the same country who speaks the same language but other than English. When I am in the class, I barely feel, I am in one of the Australian University where I can practice speaking English apart from the lecture.

Tip 6: Avoid undesirable situations

You can do a lot to make your student life better. You need to be careful and smart enough to choose the right University and the right subjects in the right location.

To get most out of your study abroad mission, your first step is to carry out massive research on your own about the University, their locations, and the course of studies. Remember, you and your family are investing a big amount of money in your education. Every cent count!

You will have plenty of educational agents to choose from but spend a little bit more of your time to find the right one. You can also visit the websites other than mainstream education agents to get alternatives views/ideas that help you scrutinize the information that you have gathered from these agents.

Tip 7: Make the most out of information available on the websites and don’t rely on one agent

Remember, we are in the era of the digital world- you can find a large chunk of useful information on the internet itself. I guess most of you have some access to the internet and have some basic skills of web searching. Web sites of the Universities are the great source of information freely available to you. You can also verify your choice from word of mouth from your relatives and friends lived and studied abroad. The reviews of the former students posted in the prospective University site are also helpful for you to decide.

While searching, you need to think about the amount of tuition fee you need to pay. Generally, higher the reputation of the University, higher the amount of tuition fee they charge.

Tip 8: Remember – Universities’ reputation makes a significant difference

Having enrolled in a reputed University is always several steps ahead of your future career. One can see the difference in your quality based on the reputation of the University you studied either in the job market or in your own business. Your investment in high-quality education will be paid off.

Tip 9: Make sure your subjects of study are in the Australian Skilled Occupation List  if you intend to migrate

If you are planning to settle abroad or want to get a suitable job in the country you studied, you need to think about the job prospects of the subjects you will be studying. Remember, Australian government regularly revise the list of jobs that shows the scarcity of subject matter specialists in the jobs market. The larger the number of the scarcity of the subject matter specialists, the better is the chance of getting permanent residency in Australia.

For detail, you can visit Australian Government’s Skilled Occupations List (SOL). Remember, the Australian Government updates this list regularly.

Tip 10: Not all the degrees are eligible for subsequence work visa

Be aware of the worst scenarios! Studying a good subject that has job prospect is not enough. Sometimes the duration of your degree may not compatible with the requirement of the immigration office for work visa application or for applying long-term stay (permanent residency). Cecily Huang, a former international student, writes a bitter story in The Sydney Morning Herald (one of the leading Australian newspaper).

Story 5: I recently obtained my master’s degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney. I got a full-time job offer from a well-known Chinese-Australian newspaper, but I needed a Temporary Student Visa to take this job. Unfortunately, after spending $1600 on a non-refundable visa fee, and waiting a month, my visa application was not successful, because my master’s degree was not a “two-year program.

Is she was known this situation before she started her study, she could have enrolled in a two-year degree program.

If you carefully consider the above-mentioned general tips, you should be able to choose the right courses and the right University that suits your needs

Have you chosen a right educational agent as you start planning your study abroad?

Have you chosen a right educational agent as you start planning your study abroad?

“Prakash Sharma (pseudo name) had almost forgotten that he had paid hundreds of thousands to the consultant when he got the visa. But after reaching London, the college asked for money with him again. He then realized that the consultant had cheated on him by not transferring money to the college”.

“Rajani Sharma of Chitwan had applied at a college in Ireland paying 5,500 Euro (almost 6 lakhs and 21 thousand NRs). But her visa was rejected. Initially, both the college and the consultant hesitated to give her money back but she got  her money back a year after taking legal action”.

The two cases mentioned above represent the plight of the Nepalese students seeking consultancy service to pursue higher education overseas. Owing to the increasing youth unemployment and lack of  quality education system at home, foreign degrees have become a preferred choice of Nepalese students. Similarly, the societal perceptions towards ‘foreign educated’ have become a matter of social prestige and recognition often providing an impetus to international education.

International students’ number ever swells

In fact, Nepali students are among the 10 largest populations of foreign students in Australia, Japan, India and New Zealand. The trend of migrating for international education is increasing every year. The Ministry of Education in Nepal issued a total of 30, 696 no-objection letters for prospective students in the fiscal year 2014-15, compared to 28,126 in the previous year which clearly hints at the craze of international education among Nepali students.

Educational consultancy becoming an ‘industry’

It is estimated that there are about 1,000 educational consultancies in Nepal alone although all of them haven’t been legally registered. Walking down Putalisadak or Baghbazar any morning till evening, we can find thousands of young students at study abroad centres seeking counseling services to materialize their dream. Lured by the promise of student visas and affordable education among others, they throng at these service centres with much enthusiasm and hope. However, students in most cases don’t have even the basic knowledge about the geographical location, environment and culture of their destination countries.

Lured by the promise of student visas and affordable education among others, they throng at these service centres with much enthusiasm and hope. However, students in most cases don’t have even the basic knowledge about the geographical location, environment and culture of their destination countries.

What international students are to expect from educational consultancies?

While it is natural for students to seek professional help to ensure that they are making an informed choice, it is equally important to have done this with a certain level of research. Questions relating to study decisions such as: What are the minimum requirements of the University in the subjects they wish to study? How is the visa process for the corresponding country? How is the job prospect in the subject of your study? How you plan to cover your study cost? If there is any possibility of getting a scholarship to cover your full or part of the study cost.

These questions are vital but the majority of the international students often do not adequately contemplate them. “It’s very rare to get students exploring about their own further study themselves in Nepalese case. They can take information from the students who are already there as well”, says Suman Bhattarai, who went to the USA for further study without knocking the door of consultancies. He added that spending few months surfing about the colleges and their admission requirements will easily help to get things done as international colleges and universities give a clear information about academic requirements, scholarship provisions and the documents to be submitted while applying in their websites.”

Have you checked whether you have chosen a registered consultancy !

It is distressing to note that many educational consultancies have been operating the business without registering with Educational Consultancy and Accreditation Section at the Ministry of Education (MOE). “Educational Consultancies are mushrooming and some individuals have infiltrated them with the intent of serving their vested interests,” said a government official at MOE seeking anonymity. Ranging from the trafficking of persons to foreign countries in the name of abroad study to collecting money from aspiring students for visa processing to send them to Japan, Cyprus, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the fraudulent business practices remain unabated.There have been instances of a police raid in Kathmandu in the recent past whereby such educational agents have been nabbed and put behind the bars.

Ranging from the trafficking of persons to foreign countries in the name of abroad study to collecting money from aspiring students for visa processing to send them to Japan, Cyprus, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the fraudulent business practices remain unabated.There have been instances of a police raid in Kathmandu in the recent past whereby such educational agents have been nabbed and put behind the bars.

What support is supposed to offer by educational consultancies?

But with the increasing international enrollments through agents who are being considered as prominent local advisors to provide support for the complex decisions and the processes related to it, it isn’t possible to downplay their role completely. They have been assisting students with everything from study plan counseling to pre-departure intensive language classes, arranging for standardized tests, flight reservations, planning for required insurance, visa and immigration assistance, pre-departure briefings and even career guidance.

Beware of the fake/unreliable consultancies!

According to a counselor at  one of the leading consultancy in Kathmandu, study abroad can’t be still decided or ‘booked’ upon in the manner in which a hotel room or holiday package can be- it is simply too large and personal an investment requiring the help of education agents. “Although some fake agents have also emerged, it is important that students make sure that they go to the certified educational consultants to seek service ”, he said reiterating that some genuine agents are offering high-quality service to students.

What VET course options are available in Australia for international students?

What VET course options are available in Australia for international students?

For various reasons, international students who are seeking Australian education may not enter into a bachelor degree right away. Entry requirements may not be met or an international student may want to dip their toes in the water before committing to a full degree.

Some international students, seeking an Australian education participate in Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses instead of a bachelor’s degree and still gain valuable knowledge and skills that can be applied to the workforce.

VET courses hands on industry experience

VET courses are offered by Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes, private colleges or Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

One form of Australian education that many international students choose to take is a VET course which is a sector based on the partnership between the Australian government and industry. VET courses are a great option as they often have hands-on industry experience and are a great form of Australian education that prepares international students for the workforce.

Types of VET qualifications

This form of Australian education includes the following types of qualifications for international students:

  • Certificate I-IV (teaching introductory skills and vary from 6 months to a year).
  • Diplomas (preparing international students for their industry of choice and usually take 1-2 years).
  • Advanced diplomas (for advanced skills and can be used towards university courses, around 1.5-2 years in length).
  • Vocational graduation certificate/diploma (high-level employment skills between 6 months – 2 years).
  • English language courses (approx. 48 weeks).

VET courses are much cheaper than University degrees

Another benefit for international students studying a VET course instead of a university degree is the price difference, VET courses vary between $4000 to $22,000 per year (not including the cost of living) which is much cheaper than a university degree.

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements for this Australian education also vary. Most VET courses require the equivalent of Australian Year 10, 11 and 12 but in addition, some courses may require something more specific to the course such as a portfolio for an art course.

VET providers

TAFE institutes that offer this Australian education are Holmesglen in Melbourne, Victoria which offer international students courses such as Engineering, Digital Media, Hairdressing, Education and much more. Another Melbourne TAFE if the Kangan Institute which is one of the most well-known Australian education providers. Kangan Institute offers international students 5 different campus locations and many courses ranging from Automotive to Visual Merchandising.

If you are an international student seeking Australian education in New South Wales, TAFE NSW has 10 different study regions and offers international students over 300 certificate, diploma, and advanced diploma courses. Alternatively, TAFE Queensland offers international students over 15 study areas with over 180 courses and really helps students prepare for life in Australia.

Means to acquire hands-on experience

Regardless of what city, state or territory in Australia an international student may want to study, students who are seeking an Australian education will find that VET courses are a fantastic option to gain hands-on experience for the workforce or to use as a pathway into an Australian University.

What options are there for international students to stay in Australia after graduation?

What options are there for international students to stay in Australia after graduation?

As an international student, it is of interest to know what the options are to stay in Australia after completing higher education. Luckily there are a few options for international students such as completing further studies, applying for permanent residency or applying to extend the time spent living in Australia.

One option for international students to stay in Australia after completing higher education studies is to complete further studies such as an honours year, master’s degree or doctoral degree. International students will need to apply and successfully gain entry into their course of choice. International students will then need to apply for a new visa, extend their student health cover and ensure they have enough money to continue their stay.

To continue to work or study in Australia, international students can apply for permanent residency. International students will need to have their skills assessed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protections Skilled Migration Program and then may be invited to apply for a visa.

One visa that includes permanent residency for international students is the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) which is a visa for workers who are skilled and have been points-tests and who are not sponsored by an employer or family member or have been nominated by a state or territory government.

Other permanent visa options for international students are the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187). If an international student is not sent an invitation to apply for a visa they can always apply to temporarily stay in Australia.

International students may wish to apply to temporarily stay in Australia after completing their higher education. There are many visa options for international students, one of which is for international students who may wish to travel around Australia. International students can apply for a tourist visa or even a working holiday visa if they wish to work while traveling.

Another option is to apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485). This visa is for international students who have graduated and wish to stay in Australia temporarily.

If you are an international student seeking to stay in Australia after completing higher studies, it is important to look into your options well before you graduate. Universities have many online and on-campus features to help international students so the process is as smooth as possible.

Another way to familiarize yourself with the processes is by checking in with the Department of Immigration and Border Protections website and studying the protocols and options. Whether you are an international student looking to complete further studies, get started in the workforce, travel or become a permanent resident, there are options out there for you.

Is Australia better than Europe for international students to live and study?

Is Australia better than Europe for international students to live and study?

With each passing year, there seems to be a significant rise in the number of students wanting to live and study abroad. Finding the right educational institution for study abroad and living in a country far away from home, international students have diverse options to choose from depending on their area of interest. Studying abroad gives students a much wider world view and helps them gain a global mindset giving them an expansive range of future career prospects.

Europe and Australia are two amazing options for international students who want to widen their career scope and integrate different cultures to enhance their overall wellbeing. Studying abroad also widens a student’s view of how the world works and Australia and Europe have unmatched experiences for all international students.

When students aim to study abroad, academics are just half of what they want to gain. Australia and Europe being culturally rich countries/places, international students look for the diverse cultural experiences when they study abroad.

International students in both these continents, also look for housing options available while they try balance out time for academics and ways to enjoy their student life when undertaking study abroad, in the best possible manner. Most universities have on campus housing options, that offer some amazing resources like international student clubs and academic resources. Facilities like these, not only aid students for studying purposes, but also allow them to build healthy relationships with people from all across the globe, when they study abroad.

While studying abroad, international students can choose, from a number of easily available housing options usually located close to the university campus. This in turn allows to easily partake in classes, clubs and all activities being organized, even while living off campus.

Having a roommate is most advisable for international students. This allows them to be at ease and form better connections, thereby also helping them to venture out, which is quite a quintessential step when they study abroad.

Whether you want to discover the food in Italy or see the wall of Berlin in Germany or just bask in glory of the European countryside on your day off, Europe has so much to offer. Whether you want to stand atop the Eiffel tower or take a ride on the Gondola in Venice and tick mark on your bucket list these enriching experiences are sure to leave you rejuvenated for your Monday morning class. Guided trips to the acclaimed monuments across the country are sometime organized by the university for international students or you can ask a local agency to craft one for you.

Boasting of a plethora of experiences for international students, the Australian landscape also gives some of the most spectacular natural experiences to those visiting. Home to the Great Barrier Reef, Tour to the Opera house, shopping and dining in Sydney, can become some of the most memorable days of your student life abroad. Again either the college faculty takes it upon them, to take you around or you could be more adventurous over the weekend and take off by yourself.

For international students, living abroad, the right balance between academics and site seeing can be a life changing experience. We hope, for each one of you to have an experience of a lifetime!