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Nigerian agency body highlights need for quality business indicator

Education agencies operating in Nigeria have refuted an implication that enabling student loan fraud is rampant among student counselling businesses in the country, but the leading agency association has called for better understanding and messaging in the marketplace about its members and how to be assured of quality advising.

The UK has seen a 390% increase in student visas issued between 2019 and the end of 2021. Photo: iStock

"A few bad eggs should not be a representation of the great work being done by professional agents and consultants"

The 10-year-old Association of United Kingdom Certified Education Agents of Nigeria is now planning a press conference in Nigeria to alert parents and students about possible fraudulent behaviour of rogue businesses, as interest in study abroad rises in the country.

Providing a response to a previous story published on The PIE News – highlighting concerns raised about duplicitous “proof of funds” services being advertised – Rose Omonubi, president of the association, noted, “We strongly object to the generalisation made i.e ‘Nigerian Agents’”.

In a statement, the members condemned any such activity and noted, “We cannot pretend not to know that these practices exist in the recruitment industry in Nigeria and many other countries by unscrupulous individuals that parade themselves as agents.

“We strongly object to the generalisation made of ‘Nigerian Agents’”

“But as an association with highly professional individuals who conduct their businesses with good practices, we do not condone these as they contradict the very reasons why the association was created.”

AUKCEAN was set up 10 years ago, working closely with the British Council. It was formed out of the need “to sanitise the UK recruitment industry, demonstrate credibility and professionalism and create a strong voice and identity for agents in Nigeria”, explained Omonubi, who runs Nubi Education.

The association, which has 29 active members, added, “It is worth knowing that credible Nigerian agents and consultants have contributed immensely to boost UK’s economy through hard work and continued promotion of UK education, culminating in high student numbers experienced by the UK.

“Therefore, a few bad eggs should not be a representation of the great work being done by professional agents and consultants.”

Bobby Mehta, chairperson of BUILA, acknowledged the significant workload in counselling and advising rising student numbers from the country.

“With a 390% increase in student visas issued between 2019 and the end of 2021, this recent increase represents a very welcome recovery for UK universities and we are keen to continue to attract Nigerian students,” he told The PIE.

“We have seen a significant growth in applications from Nigeria and are extremely proud to be a destination of choice for thousands of Nigerian students who chose to study in the UK.

“With such unprecedented growth, there is also a higher risk of misrepresentation, this has been seen in other markets that have gone through this expansion. BUILA has been working extremely closely with the Home Office and other sector bodies to share best practice with members and their agents on the ground to ensure that we continue to safeguard prospective students.”

Omonubi said that AUKCEAN has agreed to work with British Council and UKVI to either identify or report bad practice, as well as re-evaluating members to ensure they always uphold the core values of professionalism and integrity.

“My advice would be that those institutions could look at ways that they can financially support students”

One UK university representative working in Nigeria, who preferred not to be named, spoke to The PIE. They explained that institutions also needed to be mindful of affordability restrictions despite real appetite to benefit from an international education.

“Nigeria is a very price sensitive market where student ambition can often surpass financial capabilities,” they said. “Though I am aware of rumours [raised in the original article], I am not aware of any specific cases.

“Nigerian students have a lot to offer their respective institutions; my advice would be that those institutions could look at ways that they can financially support them so they have more options available to fund their studies.”

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