Dissatisfaction rises among Bhutanese applicants toward education consultancy and placement firms

In the pursuit of dreams abroad, Bhutanese individuals find themselves entangled in the complexities of education consultancy firms, where promises often mask the stark realities.

Through the lens of 23-year-old Sonam’s journey, she unravels the challenges shaping the experiences of those seeking educational and professional opportunities abroad: “These consultancies treat us as their money or fund providers. They just do the simple basic work, like telling us the basic documents required without any care.”

She also emphasized on the lack of personalized attention, citing instances where basic queries were left unanswered, hindering her progress. Sonam reveals a disturbing trend of misinformation, recounting her personal experience of delayed communication where she details, stating, “They lied about doing my double admission, and I found out when I visited them personally. This is the problem with many consultancies; they lie about the real work and mostly give fake promises.”

One of the applicants even mentioned that the ones working in these consultancies are mostly recent graduates and that it raises concerns about their experience in handling cases that profoundly impact someone’s life. The applicant said, “While it’s positive that they are finding employment, their limited experience, coupled with low pay in smaller consultancies, hinders their ability to invest substantial effort. This situation poses challenges for career growth and development.”

Another applicant Tashi Tshering said, “Just 1 percent of scanning documents and lodging of visa is done by the consultancy.” The pivotal task of crafting his Statement of Purpose (SOP), a service he paid for, turned out to be a disappointment. He said, “They had one job to do- writing my SOP, for which I paid them, but it looked like all copy-pasted phrases/sentences, and I had to write it all by myself even after paying them for that SOP.”

Regarding this matter, one of the CEOs of the consultancy said, “We provide complete information both regarding the prospect of the courses and the requirements /criteria set by the universities. In addition, the students are also provided with options and guidance on improving their profiles if the students are found to be not eligible for their selected courses.”

While mentioning the concern of poor SOP writing, a CEO of one of the consultancy firms said, “While SOP is always recommended to be written by the students themselves, however, in the cases where students find it difficult to understand the actual content requirements and ask for our services, we assist in doing that.”

The CEO also mentioned that in his education consultancy, “The students are not charged separately for SOP writing- the consultancy fee is inclusive of all the services.”

Another CEO of an education consultancy firm said, “Students write their own SOP, we don’t charge extra, but help edit and proofread SOP for Nu 5,000 one-time service fees from college admission to the visa application.”

The Head of Association of Bhutanese Education Consultancies (ABEC), Palden Tshering, suggests that effective collaboration between clients and Educational Consulting and Placement Firms (ECPFs) is crucial for successful study abroad experiences.

According to him, “Challenges arise when students expect ECPFs to handle all aspects of the decision-making process without a clear understanding of their preferences.” Moreover, he said some students enter an ECPF’s office expressing a desire to study abroad without a specific plan, relying entirely on the ECPF to navigate their academic journey. He said, “This will waste everyone’s time and is a recipe for disaster.”

He also said that proactive clients who conduct thorough research before seeking ECPF streamline the process and they arrive with a well-defined choice of study destination, field of study, and preferred country, save valuable time and ensure clarity.

Apart from documentary and service issues students also point out that many consultants give a very rosy picture of the destinations including on social media and do not acquaint them on the more difficult aspects like housing, cost of living, difficulty in getting jobs, dangers of taking certain courses to future visa applications and more.

However, a consultant said that the other side of the coin is that Bhutanese youths want the cheapest and easiest courses and that also lands them in trouble later.

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