Students who plan to study abroad need enough time to finish assessments, requirements, and examinations. Aside from choosing the program of study, a lot of paperwork is required to be submitted on different deadlines. There is too much on the plate for every international student that most turn to education agents and professionals to assist in each step of the process. Higher education institutions team up with top-performing education partners and agents. Aside from competence, an important thing to look out for is an education agent’s ethical standards.
When international students pour all their resources and trust in an education partner or agent, there is no guarantee that the desired outcome will always be achieved.
Fraudulent Activities in International Student Recruitment
A major concern at present is the credibility and legality of education agents and partners that HEIs and students turn to. Not all follow ethical standards causing a negative impact in the market for international education. At the University of Southern California, a former admissions official, Hiu Kit David Chong, pleaded guilty to allowing unqualified Chinese students to be admitted to the university in exchange for a huge amount of money. This reached over $40,000 from different clients for several years.
Another incident in the US that involved surrogate test takers, fake documents, and guaranteed acceptance into institutions was that of Yi Chen and Yixin Li. The two parties owned a company that offers education consulting services, which also assists international students in getting an F-1 visa. They were able to place 19 students in some recognized schools in the US. Even years back, there have been incidents of Chinese students getting admitted to top US schools through money and falsified documents.
Since the US is one of the top international student destinations in the world, most are willing to do anything to get into a prestigious university and finish a program. Unfortunately, this also made international students engage in illegal activities such as paying huge amounts to secure their slot. US Homeland Security devised a way to entrap agents and students who engage in illegal recruitment overseas. Farmington University, a “fake school” the agency created, enrolled over 100 foreign students well-guided by eight academic agents.
For the students who prefer to seek assistance from education agents and partners, it can be challenging to see which ones are genuine or illegitimate. There are a lot who portray as if they were doing the process the right way. Another thing that poses a concern is that some students would pay thousands of dollars to get into an institution they want – even if they clearly know they would be getting fake visas, permits, transcripts, and other documents needed for a school application.
Importance of Agent Governance
Partners in international education must look back to their main and sincere goal of helping foreign students with all the information they need to be able to apply successfully in the schools they prefer. Both parties need to work together to claim that success. Going the easy route, which could mean paying off to indulge in fraud, defies the essence of this business.
Institutions that choose agents must see to it that everything goes the legal way – from business licenses and real physical offices, to conducting thorough background and comprehensive reference checks.
Thus, agent governance has a huge impact on the recruitment of international students. Any mishandling or irregularity will reflect on the integrity of the education agents. With those agents and partners involved in the falsification of documents and illegally accepting monetary payments, they have a place in the justice system. And that is something that is shunned upon because agents work on the ground in representing institutions. One single mistake will also reflect on the kind of partnership an HEI and agent has.
What Can Be Done
Even if there are credible educational agents that participate in the international education market, it will be a challenge to determine who is otherwise. With the fast development of science and technology, there are already ways in detecting fake documents.
There is also the use of a QR code in most universities at present to check the authenticity of a degree. Anti-counterfeit technology is an effective way to minimize and eventually eliminate illegal reproduction of credentials. If higher education institutions, agents, and partners work hard in providing quality and legitimate assistance to students, there is no doubt that the international education market will continue to prosper even more in the future.
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