Today’s question tags: what is the role of international study agents? How do I know a credible agent? Can I process study-visa independently without an agent? How do I handle the agent that swindled me? What happens if the agents are not successful in the admission process? Can I get a refund from agents if my admission process fails?

It is very complex and expensive to study abroad.

 Overtimes, agents guide students through the application process into institution that best suit them and target their specific needs. Their services include but not limited to education counseling, arranging language tests or entrance examinations, preparing applications to institutions, pre-departure briefings, visa and immigration advice, and help with flights and accommodation.

Sometimes ago, the British Council researched on 90,000 prospective international students selected around the globe. Concerning Nigeria, the results revealed that more than 30 per cent of Nigerian students planned to or employed the service of an agents in their admission process.

Today, some universities now use agents to bring in international students. The good ones remain an invaluable asset for both institutions and applicants. But there is no doubt that some agents costs too much and produced too little or nothing in extreme cases. Therefore, they cause reputation damage to the universities they claim to be affiliated with and leave prospective students frustrated. In Nigeria, there seems to be no regulatory body controlling the operations of these agents and this makes it difficult to identify the credible ones.

The following facts will be of help in seeking a reliable international education agent:

1. Be very careful of on the spot offer of admission letters. Many agents have adopted this method as a marketing style but such admission comes with several conditions that would be unraveled later. Your application may be successfully completed but admission offers takes some times in a credible higher institution.

2. Agents are affiliated mostly to schools that are private owned.  These schools are established with international students as their primary market. A percentage of the tuition fees you pay to some of these schools sometimes come back to the agents that has helped you in seeking the admission. They may therefore not provide you with the institution that necessarily suit your need or desire but instead, the ones that offer a greater profit to them.

3. Make a careful evaluation of the knowledge of the agents you are contacting. There are agents with vast experience and there are others with little or no experience. It is advised that you work with those that can provide you with current and up-to-date information to enable you make informed decisions. One way to do this is to make use of those who have completed an agent-training course such as those offered by the British Council, International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF), American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), or a similar organization.

4. Are you a post graduate student? Do not depend on agents to provide your research supervisor. You need to know if sufficient correlation exist between your research interests and background of your prospective supervisor. More information would be given out on how to find a suitable supervisor in subsequent posts.

5. How do I handle the agent that swindled me? There is no wide known policy framework in place in Nigeria to investigate and report agent misconduct nor any formal procedure for sharing information when a student has been swindled. Make sure your agent is truly passionate about the process of your international studies and not only after your money. Terminate activities with any agent who you suspect is engaging in dishonest practices or encouraging you to falsify documents.

Conclusively, as you are engaged in the admissions process, have a long-term objectives. It is not compulsory to involve an agent, you can go through the whole process independently. However, in case you find it necessary to employ their service, establish a thorough conviction that the agent you hire is a honest broker he claims to be.

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