When a member of this Career GroupPlan was on a short bus tour in the outskirts of Sydney, a South Asian looking young man in his thirties sat beside me. Looking at me, he asked: “what do you do in Australia?”. I replied: “I do research and teaching at a University”. He then poured a range of questions at me:

 “I am from India. My brother wants to study Engineering in Australia. Which University is good? Here can he get a scholarship? Where can we get all these information?……….

“Hang on’, I said to him, adding, “There is a range of Universities, colleges, and courses in Sydney and Australia”. I told him further that there are scholarship opportunities too but the student should thoroughly check the websites of the universities and other scholarship providers for the accurate information. The person then asked for my mobile number and I provided it though I was a bit hesitant but he was too keen and enthusiastic not give it. “I will give you a call soon, uncle” – he left the bus.

How smart is this boy, I thought later. But I also found him too naive at the same time. If he is interested in Australian education and if he is already in Australia for an Information Technology (IT) related short- term work, then why is he not able to get information? Why does he have to rely on a fellow passenger in a local bus? Luckily, he got a university academic like me to talk and also a person kind enough to share the mobile number just in an encounter of five minutes.

 “Hello uncle, I am xxx”, I received a call from him when he was back to India. He asked for more information about admission, scholarship, university and others. The call came at a time when I was about to start working, so told him that he referred to the pages of five different Universities in Sydney.

 This brief encounter with a person seeking information on Australian education has left me wondering about a few questions.

 I asked myself: Why are people so keen to come to Australia for higher studies from developing countries? I gathered some answers to these questions through some reflections. Young people in the developing world know that Australia has not only a reputed English medium education, but it also has good post-study opportunities for jobs and migration.

 While interests and demands are high, the service industry seems to be still poorly responsive. Many students in the developing world are still not used to carefully reviewing the websites, online information, much less making email inquiries.

 Several of the emails I received over the past six months asking me if I can supervise PhD or Masers degree research coming from various developing countries, I found this emails either incomplete or unclear. All of these emails were not framed to impress the prospective supervisor or the admission officers in the university.

 Many developing country students know Australia is a good place for higher studies but they are not quite sure how they can navigate information, how they can find the best and relevant information and the like.

 I have met several other students in Sydney who regret having chosen a particular place, course, University or a degree. They all feel about the incorrect decisions they made in choosing these aspects of their education project. “I just thought about coming to Australia, and did not look carefully at  details of where and how of the course”. “If I knew more information, I would have taken a different course and a different University:”, said a student of a low-ranking University student of Nepal origin.

 Despite internet revolution, students in the countries of origin have not been able to make full use of the available information. Perhaps they are flooded with too much information that is not directly relevant to them. They look for information on courses, jobs, financial aids and cheap accommodations, but education service industry is dominated by predatory consultants who grab students and put them in a course without offering adequate advice and information.

 Universities themselves rely on costly intermediary agents to sell admissions, while they do too little to reach out prospective students and offer advice directly.

 What is needed is providers of independent advice from those without any direct interests to enrol students in a specific course or an education provider. Independent career advice platform with such goal could be of great help to this end.

 By Staff Member