Sunday the 21st September 2014
Volume 336

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Our Sunday article covers the myths education agents propagate about study in Australia    

Myths propagated about study in Australia: Education agents in India 
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By Tanaya DAS  


As a student wanting to go abroad to study, education agents are one's first point of communication. They are vital in assisting students with judging and applying to the right University and sometimes are the reason students choose a particular country.


However, invaluable as their assistance may be there are also a lot of miss-information being propagated by education agents who operate abroad. IMMIGRATIONews decided to visit offices of a few agents in India, in Ahmedabad and Chennai as well as call a number of well-reputed agents in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai to find out what is being said about Australia.


It came to light that Australia was being sold, as an education destination because the agents claim Permanent Residency is a piece of cake.  


Eventual migration is the end goal and according to one agent "who cares what you study, where you study and what marks you get. If you study in the U.K or the U.S you will come back here and compete with the IIT and IIM grads but Australia needs people, they will give you residency as soon as you graduate." (Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management are India's premier higher education institution with bright career prospects for most students.)


It is a common claim that Australia is so under populated that the regional areas are bursting with jobs, even the cities are full of jobs for students. It was re-iterated by all the agents we spoke to that you can work as much as you want during the university holidays and it's easy to earn enough to pay for living expenses and earn enough to fund their tuition.


Myths about easy access to cheap housing, abundant jobs and cheap living expenses are thrown about by many of the agents. Overseas the lines between education agents and migration agents are so blurred that education agents are giving migration advice, which they are not qualified to give.


One education agent insisted on students enrolling in courses, which he claimed would ensure permanent residency visa once they finish the course. However, on checking IMMIGRATIONews found that the courses were not included or have been taken out of the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) years ago.  


What is most alarming is these agents, some of whom have never set foot in Australia are selling a dream that will ensure Australia doesn't meet these high expectations.


One of the education agents IMMIGRATIONews visited in Ahmedabad was this one stop shop that sold itself as the only way to realize your potential. It was a migration consultancy, education consultancy, travel agency, arranged package tours for the elderly, IELTS coaching, recruitment agency and more.

They pride themselves on being a one stop shop for potential students to Australia and IMMIGRATIONews was told "We can do everything for you, our support extends from helping you choose your course and institution based on your migration goal and budget, apply for your student visa, book your ticket, open your bank account, arrange for pick-up in Australia and provide job assistance, arrange for work visa and support you till you get your residency."


Post study work and visa opportunities are words thrown about easily and students are lulled into thinking they have hit the proverbial migration jackpot oblivious to the facts of occupation lists, English requirements and points tests.  


Another agent in Chennai speaking to a student who said he was interested in a good education and not migration was told "Even if you don't want to stay in Australia it is always better to get Australian PR and then citizenship so you can easily get visas into other countries. Everyone knows the pain it is to get visas anywhere on an Indian passport. Your education to Australia is your passport to everywhere else."


IMMIGRATIONews called a few agents after the recently released HSBC survey that ranked Australia as the most expensive place to study comparing tuitions and living costs to other study destinations.


On being asked about this an education agent in Bangalore said "All these surveys are rubbish, I visit Australia on a regular basis, of course Australia is expensive if you want to rent an apartment, if you are a student going to study why do you need an apartment? You know you are going there to get residency, so if you have to live roughly it is okay. Anyway we Indians are used to living with our families and joint families so we can adjust with many people, the costs go down. Indian groceries provide everything what need is there to shop in Australian shops? Entertainment is available for free download. If you look hard enough you can get good deals and free things. All this is rubbish just rubbish."


It is clear that the students were given misleading information about the granting of Permanent Residence visa, job opportunities as students and the cost of living and as long as this is the case, international students continue to be vulnerable to various forms of exploitation as they are ill-prepared for reality of life in Australia.


Times of India on studying in Australia. 



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There is obviously something seriously amiss with the way education in Australia is being sold in India.

We have purposefully left out the names of these agencies quoted in our story for I have better things to do than to answer complaint mail about how we damaged their businesses.

Do many international students come to Australia from India makes their lives a success here?

Of course they do.

However most would agree that it was not as easy as the notion was sold to them by their education agents overseas.

Of course Australia is a great place to study, but  don't expect Australia to roll out the red PR carpet for you.

Many students from all around the world find it a struggle once they get here, but hey struggling and overcoming the odds can be a very satisfying experience in itself.



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