The Government of Sri Lanka will move quickly to regulate education agents in the country following the deaths of three female Sri Lankan students in Azerbaijan. The three students died on January 9 2020 from smoke inhalation as a result of a fire in their apartment in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.

Each year about 20,000 Sri Lankan students leave home to study abroad. They head to all of the popular international study destinations, including the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Azerbaijan has also become a popular destination for Sri Lankan students, and many education agents in Sri Lanka promote study opportunities there. Agents say that Azerbaijan can be a good option for students because:

  • it offers a low cost alternative to universities in the main study markets mentioned above
  • students have the opportunity to transfer to universities in other European countries like France, Italy, Germany, Latvia and Lithuania
  • students may be able to obtain a Schengen visa, enabling them to travel freely within the EU, and
  • the requirements to meet minimum English standards and show financial support are more relaxed that in other markets.

Higher Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that the process to regulate education agents would begin with a meeting within a week involving key stakeholders, including education agencies, employment agencies, and the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau.

Well designed regulation of education agents should be welcomed. As always though, drafting and passing the legislation is the easy part. It will only be effective to protect students if it is backed with a plan and resources to enforce compliance.

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Source: Sunday Times Sri Lanka

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