LAHORE: Unregistered education & visa consultants play with future of youth

* Education consultants deceive unsuspecting students, parents promising visas and admissions in foreign universities

By Arsalan Haider

Although the standard of higher education in Pakistan is much better than it was 10 or 20 years ago with a number of universities, colleges and higher education institutions opening up during the last decade, still a large number of youths prefer to receive education abroad.

Most of the students pay hefty amounts to the so-called student consultants believing that they will help them better communicate with the foreign universities and secure admissions as well as visas.

However, the search ends up in disappointment in many cases as the consultants turn out to be frauds who not only destroy the future of these innocent students by using forged documents and methods but also deprive them of hundreds of thousands of rupees.

The youngsters who want to study abroad claim the standard of higher education in Pakistan is lower than in the Western countries. For going abroad, students consult education consultants, who are not a rare commodity in the provincial capital at all. The consultancy business in the city is booming as the students who are interested in going abroad visit these consultants.

Apart from the consultants who guide students about the foreign universities and institutions, there are a large number of other consultants as well who borrow money in the name of consultancy and disappear from the scene.

A survey conducted by an NGO and interviews of several of those engaged in consultancy revealed that large numbers of the local education consultancy firms were misguiding the students seeking admission overseas. “We are very much concerned and the issue has been taken up with the Higher Education Commission (HEC),” said a senior chief executive officer of a consultancy firm seeking anonymity.

Associated with the consultancy business since 2000, she said that fake consultancy firms had not only affected the business of registered firms but also damaged the image of the country. “HEC has given us good response but we need to create awareness among the students and parents who seek assistance of unregistered consultancy firms,” she added.

“It is not possible without the collaboration of European, Australian and America-based private colleges and universities,” she added.

While the parents and students who have been deceived by fake and unregistered firms have appealed to the HEC and high ups of the Punjab government to take strict action against unregistered firms who play with the future of competent youth of Pakistan.

Father of Babar Mehmood, a student, who applied for a foreign university and was deceived by an unknown consultant, told Daily Times that he paid all his life savings to a consultant, as it was his dream that his son became a doctor from a university of international repute.

He added that it was the duty of the government to keep an eye on unregistered and fake consultants.

Courtesy: Daily Times

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