Education agent Imran Saeed Sheikh, faces allegations of serious misconduct in the wake of an education agent fraud scandal in the UK, uncovered by the BBC.

In a nutshell it’s claimed that he’s one of several dodgy education agents who are recruiting bogus students so they can claim government funded loans they are not entitled to.

The BBC made an undercover approach to Imran Saeed Sheikh, who claimed to be an agent for Grafton College. (Grafton College has issued a statement saying he was not an authorised agent)

He said that for a payment of £200 he could get the BBC’s undercover students on to a two-year Higher National Diploma (HND) business course at Grafton College so they could obtain student loans.

He also offered to provide everything the students would need to complete the course in return for a slice of their loan money. The BBC alleges he said:

When your first installment comes we take £1,500. With this we take care of your attendance for the whole year, get your eight assignments done.

One of the undercover students said they did not meet the entry criteria for the course because they had left school at 16. For a further payment of £600, Imran Sheikh provided the student with a bogus certificate for a course they had not studied which met the threshold for entry for the Grafton College course.

The student was accepted on to the Grafton College course, and quickly received the first £3,600 installment of their student loan money.

Imran Sheikh also helpfully gave the undercover further detailed advice on how the scam works, including how to avoid attendance, or doing any course work:

Come at around 10.00, take two hours off from your job, mark your attendance, tick mark your name, leave after two hours.

You just sit like a dummy and keep nodding along.

When the college gives you assignments, you don’t have to do them. These go directly to our agent in Pakistan. He gets people to do them.

What should institutions do with this information?

A best practice approach to education agent management requires, at a minimum, that an institution working with this agent has a conversation with the agent to test the veracity of the allegations.*

Ideally, institutions will also have been seeking student feedback on agent performance for each referred enrollment. If so, that student feedback can be reviewed to see whether any similar issues arise.

Ultimately it is a matter for the institution to make further inquiries, and to take appropriate action in line with its education agent policy.

(* Australian institutions are required to ask themselves whether the information above, and any follow up inquiries they might undertake, leads them to “reasonably suspect the agent to be…engaged in…dishonest practices.” If the institution does hold that belief it must not accept students from the agent – National Code, Standard 4)

Are you implementing best practice education agent management?

Stories like this one can (and probably should) make educational institution administrators and in-house recruiters feel worried.

The benefits of working with education agents are clear, but so are the risks.

Just one rogue agent can cause significant brand and reputation damage, not to mention the harm to students.

The importance of educational institutions committing to and implementing best practice education agent management can’t be overstated. It’s not a complete protection against dodgy agents, but it’s a minimum requirement to sensibly mitigate the risk.

AgentBee can help

AgentBee is a complete education agent management solution for educational institutions.

It’s easy-to-use software that supports educational institutions to implement education agent management best practice.

A key benefit for AgentBee clients is risk mitigation. Education agent performance evaluation is built in to the system to help institutions spot problems early.

AgentBee also provides regular Education Agent Alerts like this one so institutions can stay on top of any reported concerns about education agents and consider appropriate action.

And it’s not just about managing education agent risk.  The agent engagement tools included in AgentBee save time for in-house recruitment teams and support increased enrollments through your agent channel.

AgentBee also offers simple pricing, no lock-in contracts, and an implementation option that costs next-to-nothing.

Click here for more information on AgentBee