AgentBee publishes reports of alleged and actual behaviour by education agents that is dishonest, unprofessional, or otherwise has the potential to impact negatively on international students or institutions.
Our aim is to support professionalism, integrity and transparency in the international student recruitment industry.
We issued 10 education agent alerts in 2019. A brief summary of each one is below.
With just over a week left to run until the new year we hope we don’t have to add to the list of alerts in 2019!
Of all the alerts in 2019 this was the biggest story of the year. US authorities alleged that William Rick Singer – CEO of education agency The Key – with worked with wealthy clients and guaranteed to get their students admission to prestigious US colleges. He arranged for SAT/ACT test scores to be doctored, and paid bribes to college administrators to guarantee admission.
Over 50 others were also charged in relation to their involvement, including Hollywood celebrities.
A story by ABC’s investigative journalism program, 4 Corners, alleged that several large Australian universities had waived minimum English requirements for some international enrollments, resulting in large numbers of international students who simply do not have the English skills to successfully undertake the courses in which they enrolled.
The program also reported allegations against education agent OECC in the context of examining Murdoch University’s international student recruitment practices.
US Federal authorities arrested over 100 international students and 8 international student recruiters in a sting operation using a fake university.
It is alleged that the international student recruiters helped around 600 foreign nationals enroll in the fake university so that they could stay in the US illegally and work. Kakireddy and 7 others were accused of visa fraud conspiracy and harbouring aliens for profit.
An investigation by Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper revealed over 100 complaints by international students against Ashleigh Howe, who provided international student concierge services under the business names Student Concierge Company and Global Education Advisory.
Over a period of four years up until the end of 2018, about 100 students who sought help from Student Concierge and Global Education Advisory to find accommodation in Sydney were allegedly hit with unreasonable and unexpected fees and were chased aggressively for payment.
In April 2019 Turkish media reported that Turkish education agency Oxford House Work and Travel fired three employees when it discovered that they had fraudulently claimed US tax reimbursements for at least 122 students.
Australian media reported that police charged Melbourne businessman Frank Hu with drugging and repeatedly raping a young woman in his CBD office.
Hu reportedly managed a group of migration, travel and education agencies called the Lakenest Group. One of the businesses in the group was education agency Visa Station. Visa Station was sometimes also known as Visa Station Australia, and Visa Station Australasia.
USA Today looked closely at the business model and operations of Crimson Education, but there are definitely two sides to this story.
In November 2019 the US Department of Justice announced that the owner of EduBoston, Keenam “Kason” Park, was charged in relation to a scheme to defraud high schools and international students of millions of dollars in tuition and other fees.
In September 2019 the Canada Border Services Agency issued a news release alleging that Mr Carlito Benito, and his son, Charles Benito advised temporary workers in Canada to apply for a study permit to enable them to extend their stay in Canada even though the applicants had no intention of studying in the country, and arranged cash loans up to $17,000 for the bogus applicants to meet the financial requirement of the study permit application.
In June, Brazilian education agency Time2 Travel announced on its Facebook page the “the suspension of the agency’s activities due to financial difficulties”. Reports indicated that over 900 students could be impacted by the closure.
How good are your education agent monitoring systems?
If your institution is working with education agents it is critical that you have strong systems in place to:
- monitor the professionalism of your education agents
- know when there is a serious incident, and
- respond quickly to protect your students and brand.
AgentBee supports educational institutions around the world to do all three.