The PIE: Do you have any evidence that that leads to better outcomes?
PS: We cannot credit the pre-Master programme. We only credit the undergraduate or postgraduate study.
If the overseas universities want to recruit more talented students from China, I suggest they provide some more undergraduate subjects during the pre-Masters programme, in order to attract good students from China to participate. Let’s not just focus on the pre-Masters; let’s also focus on some quality programmes for the students.
One of the benefits of this partnership is the school can set the tuition fee or accommodation fee standard as they will.
So BOSSA can work as a third party that provides a service for both sides, in order to get some commission from these kind of services.
The PIE: There was a story in the Chinese press a while ago that there might be tighter regulation of agencies, and that BOSSA might be involved in regulating this?
PS: BOSSA aims to regulate this industry by a service standard. They have already started; initially they’ll just focus on the 71 agencies in Beijing. After the evaluation I hope that we can establish a service standard for the industry.
The PIE: How are you funding this?
PS: They are funded by the government.
The PIE: If an agency is not up to a good service standard, what happens to it?
PS: After the evaluation, the agency can get three results. One is pass; another is fail. There is one more option: BOSSA will give you an opinion on how you can improve your performance. Within this period, you have to do something to improve your performance. If not, you will fail.
The PIE: And if you fail, you cannot operate?
PS: BOSSA will bring about an opinion to the government that this agency should be shut down.
Each agent will get an evaluation report from BOSSA, written in Chinese and English. The results of the evaluation will be public in China and for overseas universities.
“If some agents fail, there is no business for them”
If some agents fail, there is no business for them.
The PIE: Is it still the case that there are only 400 licensed education agencies in China?
PS: There are 450 agencies with a licence, and thousands without. I think it’s very difficult for overseas universities to tell good from bad among these agencies.
The PIE: And how long will the BOSSA inspection process take?
PS: The results should come out in March 2014.
After this evaluation reports come out, I hope that we can find what the strong parts are of each agency are and we can make a list of them, so that everyone knows the agencies’ strengths.
The PIE: Was this your initiative, given your government background?
PS: I think I’m the driving force behind this initiative. Even if I weren’t involved, the government would push the industry to set up the standard. But at the moment I’m the best person to undergo this programme because I have been involved in this industry for so many years, and the owners of the agencies all know about me. Due to my political background, I know how the government deals with these agencies, and what direction the agency will go.
The PIE: What things will you be looking for when you inspect the agencies?
PS: BOSSA has formed a group of high quality experts as a third party to do the evaluation.
And BOSSA has cooperated with ICEF and AIRC in order to establish a Chinese service standard for these consulting agencies.