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K-Conference: China unveils anti-fraud drive

China’s biggest agency association, the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association (BOSSA), is to launch an online application form for clients applying to Korean institutions to circumvent fraudulent Chinese agents. The move, announced at last weekend’s K Conference in Korea, could help maintain healthy flows of students between the two markets, and if successful be extended to other countries.

Xuewen E, executive vice president of BOSSA (far left), joined study abroad leaders for a special summit at the K Conference in Seoul last weekend. Xuewen said BOSSA would launch an online application system for Korean universities to circumvent fraudulent Chinese agents

"We’re at the beginning of the journey"

“We will work with a number of Korean university partners, putting information about them on our website and creating an online application system,” BOSSA’s executive vice president Xuewen E said of the proposed scheme. BOSSA represents 69 of 419 state-authorised education agencies.

“Chinese students wishing to study in Korea will first come to our site, log onto our system, then make their choice,” said Xuewen. “We will help them to identify a suitable agent and monitor the whole application process.”

Xuewen added, “If anything goes wrong we can easily spot it and correct it.” Around 57,000 Chinese studied in Korea in 2010 – representing 68% of Korea’s international student population.

Xuewen was one of number of high profile figures to attend the inaugural K Conference in Seoul — an event bringing educators and agents together from the West and Asia, in response to growing Asian desire to attract, as well as export international students.

Korean universities, service providers and language schools (such as Yonsei University and Incheon English Village); leading foreign educators such as St Giles and STS; and industry bodies such as ICEF and English UK all took part in three-day event.

“Asia has become the biggest global exporting source of students and should hold more leverage in the field”

Agent associations from across Asia were also out in force – notably the Korea Overseas Study Association (KOSA), BOSSA and Japan Association of Overseas Studies (JAOS). They represent Asia’s top three markets but have never appeared at an industry event together.

“Asia has become the biggest global exporting source of students and should therefore hold more leverage in the field,” said Sang Penn, president of BOSSA, at the conference. “We are gathering here today to explore and discuss issues of common interest. We’ll also be able to share our best practices and collaborate with our Asian neighbours to improve study abroad services for students both in and beyond this region.”

Speakers exploring the theme on the first day of workshop talks included Masaru Yamada, chairman of JAOS and FELCA (the Federation of Education and Language Consultant Associations). He stressed the importance of agency associations with binding standards in winning universities’ trust and boosting inter-regional recruitment.

Johan Asplund, managing director of Sweden’s biggest agency, Blueberry (which has sent 2,000 Swedes to Asia) discussed using Asian youth culture to market Asian universities in Europe. “Culture is the primary reason for most Swedish students to study in Asia,” he said, referencing movements such as K-Pop and Anime. “To really experience and understand it they must live in the country and learn the language.”

“So many associations gathering here is a great starting point”

Conference organiser and vice president of FELCA, Giljun Yang, said he was pleased with the event and that next year’s conference would be held in JeJu island, one of Korea’s most popular tourist resorts.

“Normally Asian countries have sent students to North America and Europe but they are starting to think about having students themselves,” he said. “We’re at the beginning of the journey, but having so many associations gathering here to discuss how to promote the Asian education system to the world is a great starting point.”

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