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 attracts Nepalese students to Australia for higher studies?

What attracts Nepalese students to Australia for higher studies?

Why Australia?

There has been an unprecedented attraction among Nepalese students for Australian education over the past few years. In 2016, Australia has become the most sought after destination for Nepalese students wanting to study abroad.

According to the statistics of The Australian Government Department of Education and Training, Nepal ranked 8th largest student source country for Australia in 2015, with 15,229 students enrolled, which is 13% higher than the previous year.

Some of the important aspects of attraction towards Australian education include:

a) High quality education:With universities directly monitored by the government and the majority of them ranked among the best in the world, Australian universities have become a preferred choice among Nepalese

b) Pleasant climate (similar to home country) and lifestyle. With five out of the 30 best cities in the world for students based on student mix, affordability, quality of life and employment opportunities, Australia has become the most attractive destination

c) Easy visa processing: Australian government has adopted simplified students visa framework policy (SSVP) from July 2016 aiming to ease visa processing for international students. Accordingly, the new immigration policy places Nepal as a low risk country making it easier for genuine Nepali students to acquire visas.

d) Tuition Protection Service (TPS): Australia is the world leader in protecting tuition fees of international students studying in Australia on a student visa. Effective from 1 July 2014, Australian government has introduced Tuition Protection Service (TPS) to assist international students, if in some worse cases, the education providers are unable to fully deliver their course of study.

In such situation, by using the facility that the TPS provided international students are able to either a) complete their studies in another course or with another education provider or b) receive a refund of their unspent tuition fees.

e) Students can work for 40 hours every fortnightly during academic semester and may work unlimited hours during term breakThis provision supports international students in two main ways: a) ease student’s financial hardships during their study period b) expose international students in the Australian job market which makes them easier getting a job after they finish their study.

f) Post Study Work (PSW) arrangements: This arrangement allows international students to work and extend their stay in Australia after they finish their studies. However, the skills and qualifications obtained by the international students wanting to extend their stay should match the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

As per the existing PSW arrangement, one can get 2 years of PSW visa after the completion of Bachelors or a Masters degree, 3 years after the completion of a Masters degree by research and 4 years after the completion of a Doctorate degree.

For study abroad, education agents provide good help, bu they could also create problems if you fail to choose a reliable agent

For study abroad, education agents provide good help, bu they could also create problems if you fail to choose a reliable agent

“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.

The Debate

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.

Australian Context

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:

Career Counseling

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.

Visa Requirements

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.

Cultural Orientation

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.

Challenges

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.

Six reasons why students decide to migrate to Australia

Six reasons why students decide to migrate to Australia

Ever thinking of migration? If so, you are just among many millions looking to find a new home. And migration has been an essential process of progress. It is said that the most advanced human race ever in the world has been migrants. If you are thinking of migrating from your places, Australia can be your deserving destination. There are at least six tempting reasons for this.

An aerial shot of Sydney’s suburb of Kirribilli with the harbour Bridge in the background

  1. Australia has world’s most livable places

You may wonder how Australia compares with other countries on measures of economy and social progress. With one of the highest Human Development indicator (2nd on HDI across the world), Australia is the 12th largest economy in the world. But these are not the main reasons you should put Australia first.

What fascinates prospective migrants is Australia has a few of the most livable cities in the world including Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Adelaide. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2016 report ranked Melbourne as the world’s number one city for the sixth year in a row, while Adelaide was placed the fifth and Perth was the seventh.

These cities ranked high on a number of criteria that we value when we search livable cities. In terms of economic and political environment, income opportunities, infrastructure, public transport, health, education, recreations, and housing, Australia is one of the most livable countries on the earth.

  1.  Good job opportunities

Australia is the country with the world’s lowest rate of unemployment (5%). This means getting a job is easier than other countries like USA where the rate of unemployment is higher. If you are going to start with unskilled job, you will receive word’s highest wages here.

Dusk falls on Sydney, Australia

But don’t assume that you will get your first job the next day after you land in here. Good news is – there are hundreds of job providers in Australia who are looking for young and energetic people. The government has identified hundreds of work areas with major skills gaps, allowing employers to fill with suitably qualified people from outside Australia.

Australia still needs a large number of skilled workers in various areas including tourism, farming, viticulture and service industries as well as the health care industry.

  1. Well recognized education system

Australia is well known for its education system. There are more than 1,200 educational institutions that offer 22,000 courses. Despite being a continent with smallest population size, Australia has the third largest number of international students in the world, after the UK and the USA.  Millions of students from across the globe choose Australia for studies. If you are looking for educational opportunities, Australia should be on the top of your list destinations.

  1. Healthcare system

On social security, Australia has set an example for the world. It offers an affordable and effective healthcare system in the world. Known as Medicare and introduced in 1984 the health care system ensures Australian residents’ access to free treatment in public hospitals and additional subsidies for medical services.

In addition to this Australia offers many social security benefits to the permanent residents and citizens.

  1. Clean air and good environment

Australia offers a healthy environment with low air pollution levels in the world. With its diverse ecosystem including golden sandy beaches with clean water, tropical rainforests, arid deserts and snowy mountains, Australia is rich and healthy in terms of natural beauty environmental quality. From Hobart in the southern state of Tasmania to Darwin in the north, Australia offers you a choice of climate covering tropical to temperate.

Panorama of the Blue Mountains, Australia near Sydney

  1. Cultural diversity

Australia is a typically multicultural society. Australia is made up of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. A Recent census shows that 26% of the Australian population was born overseas and a further 20% had at least one parent born overseas.

Diverse People Cheers Celebration Food

The multicultural composition of its people, its immigration policies, its prohibition on discrimination, equality before the law of all persons, as well as various cultural policies speak about the Australia’s friendliness for migrants. Multiculturalism celebrates this diversity and recognizes the challenges and opportunities that come with it.

Five important suggestions for international students doing MBA in Australia

1) Develop a routine you can apply regularly– Making the pledge to complete an MBA definitely requires time, but more essentially, it requires effective time management. MBA graduates always recommend that new students should plan when they will fit their study into their weekly schedule to ensure they can excellently learn the subject content, apply it and get ready for assessments. A routine regularly recommended for full-time student is to assign up to 2 hours each weekday and 1 day of the weekend to their MBA studies. However, it is important that the study routine is realistic and suited to the student’s lifestyle, so that goals will be achievable.

2) Maintain a balance between work, study and life– While studying MBA as an international student, you will always get busy. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend some certain time with your friends. International graduates advise that maintaining a balance between work, study, family, social activities and regular exercise can be vital to an international student which will keep them motivated and refreshed throughout the MBA. This is why effective time management, open communication and a realistic study routine are significant for international students.

3) Connect with fellow students– For international students who study MBA through online platform, connecting with others fellow student on the same course can be exceedingly helpful to their learning experience. It was recommended that international student should use resources such as the online forum to share and contribute discussions, as well as join many other student to run social media support groups. For those international students who gains from the meeting and learning in groups, finding students from your city and creating a study group is a great way to inspire each other, solidify understanding and share real experiences. Connecting with fellow students will let you gain more information and experience as an international student.

4) Reward yourself for small achievements– Celebrate every accomplishment, particularly those you worked really hard for. Compensate yourself when you submit an assignment, complete a subject, or receive a remarkably good grade. Also ensure you take time to reflect and reward yourself when you complete each stage of the MBA, including the Graduate Certificate, which is awarded after 4 subjects, and Graduate Diploma, which is awarded following the completion of 8 subjects. At these serious points, you will know you are well on your way to concluding the MBA.

5) Use colleagues to gain further insight– While studying MBA, colleagues can provide valuable understanding into specific areas that support with the subjects studied throughout the program. International students readily encourage planning meetings with department heads in their organization, such as the Marketing, Finance and HR Directors, who can share practical insight to supplement theory from the MBA.

Studying as an international student has become more competitive than ever. The international student population can be so varied at the top business schools and I feel that the high number of international students enrolled at some top business schools has made it hard for some departments to scale and provide customized support for students. So with this advice, I think an international students will be able to finish their MBA amazingly if they can be able to practice it.

Five important things Filipino students must consider for effectively planning their study in an Australian University

Many Filipino students wish to attend an Australian University and find employment in Australia upon graduation. This is for good reason as in 2012 Australia was voted the fourth happiest country in the world and is the third most popular country to study for international students.

With approximately half a million international students attending Australian universities in 2015, it is important for Filipino students to make considerations before they apply to study in order to have an advantage when it comes to finding employment upon graduation. Here at CareerPlan we want to make the process for Filipino students as easy as possible, so we have put together a list of considerations for Filipino students wishing to attend an Australian University.

Consider which Australian university to attend before putting in applications: For Filipino students wishing to attend an Australian University it is important to consider which Australian university to attend before putting in an application.

The Australian education system is the third most popular in the world, has 22,000 courses to choose from, 1,100 educational institutions to choose from and includes eight of the top universities in the world.

Research is required to see which Australian universities offer the best employment outcomes. The location of Australian university may also impact job availability. As an example, a larger city may have more job opportunities for Filipino students to work while they are studying rather than in a rural area. Due to this, a student may consider attending an Australian university in a more metropolitan area.

Other factors also play a part such as students support specifically designed for Filipino students. For instance, Deakin University prides themselves on accepting Filipino students into their school and even has their own Deakin representative for the Filipino students, who students can reach out to at any time. Having specific support can help Filipino students get ready for applying for jobs upon graduating from an Australian university.

Consider which industry has the best job outcomes: The decision of which Australian university to attend is very important but it is also wise to consider which industry has the best job outcomes. Filipino students who wish to stay in Australia upon graduation and find a job relevant to their field of study will have higher chances of finding employment if they are in the healthcare industry, the farming industry, the government industry or in the design industry.

When deciding which Australian university to attend, it is important to consider what courses are available and if that industry has many job opportunities upon graduation.

Consider how to build job connections: As a Filipino international student, it may be hard to find a support system in a new country let alone build job connecting while studying. Australian Universities like the University of Melbourne offer the Filipino Students Association where students can come together and help each other while studying. Students can build connections and help each when it comes to building job connections and skills.

Consider how to gain work experience in your relevant field: It is important for Filipino students who are studying at Australian universities to consider how to gain work experience in their relevant field. A great way to get help on where to apply and on how to build a resume is to explore what the Australian university of choice has to offer. Many Australian universities have job seeking services and employment support.

On a student visa, Filipino students can participate in paid work for up to 40 hours a fortnight while studying. Filipino students can also partake in volunteer work which is not included in the 40 hours of the student visa. Without relevant work experience, a Filipino student may find it hard to find employment in Australia’s competitive job market upon graduation.

Consider the visa options to work in Australia upon graduation: Filipino students may wish to stay in Australia and seek employment in their relevant field of study upon graduation. It is important to consider the visa option to work in Australia way before graduating from an Australian University. Leaving it to the last minute may create unnecessary stress and take up time that could be spent on looking for employment.

As per the existing Post Study Work (PSW) rules of the Australian government, one can get two years of PSW visa after the completion of Bachelors or a Masters degree, three years after the completion of Masters degree by research, and four years for a Doctorate degree.

Other opportunities include: Filipino students have the option of applying for Australian residency, applying for sponsorship at an Australian employer, continuing with study or gaining further work experience.

Here at CareerPlan, we hope that these considerations help Filipino students with their choices of Australian university and with raising the chance of employment upon graduation.