There are around 450 licensed agencies in China, but the number that operate without a licence runs into the thousands
The company inspections, which are funded and backed by the Chinese government, began earlier this month. BOSSA has recruited a team of experts to act as an impartial third party evaluator for the inspections, and will initially focus on 71 Beijing-based agencies.
BOSSA’s President, Sang Peng, told The PIE News that the government felt BOSSA was well suited to begin this process given his own career background at the Beijing Higher Education Bureau and Beijing Education Commission.
Education counselling agencies will receive one of three ratings: pass, fail, or in need of improvement. BOSSA will provide agencies whose performance they consider unsatisfactory with guidance on how to improve. If they fail to make the suggested improvements within a set timeframe, they will fail the evaluation.
Sang explained that “if some agents fail, there is no business for them”.
Agencies that do not pass muster will be referred to the Chinese government by BOSSA, with an expectation that it will recommend the company in question shuts down.
Each agency will also receive a written report from BOSSA in both Chinese and English. These reports will be made public in March 2014, said Sang, enabling overseas institutions to assess agencies before working with them.
“After the evaluation reports come out, I hope that we can find what the strong parts are of each agency and we can make a list of them, so that everyone know what the agencies’ strengths are,” added Sang.
BOSSA’s quality oversight comes after the Chinese government was reported to be keen on regulating its agency industry last year, according to China Daily.
There are around 450 licensed agencies in China, but the number that operate without a licence runs into the thousands. “I think it’s very difficult for overseas universities to tell good from bad among these agencies,” Sang said.
He acknowledged that the Chinese government is keen to regulate the industry, and would probably move to introduce some form of evaluation process even if BOSSA were not involved. However, he said his extensive experience in the industry make him the best person to lead the programme.
“The owners of the agencies all know about me,” he said. “Due to my political background, I know how the government deals with these agencies, and what direction the agency will go, so it’s better for me to undergo the initiative.”
BOSSA is also cooperating with ICEF and the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) to promote an online training course aimed at promoting good service standards for individual agency practitioners.
The Beijing-based agency association is also diversifying to work with institutions keen to move into China, helping provide advice and information on how to access the market.