News / Asia

College Agents May Face Drastic Changes in China

Ira Mellman
The controversial business of agents who purport to help Chinese students get into U.S. colleges and universities might soon go through some drastic changes.
 
Reports circulating in China for a number of weeks say the Chinese education ministry is seeking opinions on possible restrictions that would let provincial authorities prevent foreign agencies from entering the market, and strengthen state supervision of domestic agents.
 
Tom Melcher is a private investor in Beijing who was the founder of Zinch China, a Chinese web service that provided free educational information to Chinese students looking to go overseas. He says the Chinese media has recently carried stories about how Chinese students had been tricked by unscrupulous agents. “The stories were quite sensational because it really strikes to the core of every parents fear, that they’re going to send their child overseas and they’re going to have a bad experience,” says Melcher. He says the recent discussion about regulating agents more strictly “has really been prompted by that.”
 
He says many of the agents, representing both Chinese and international companies, act like independent college counselors in the United States. “They give advice, you pay them a fee and that’s that,” said Melcher. 
 
However, he says others are agents who give advice and take a fee from parents or students, but at the same time get commissions to send students schools overseas.  The “really bad thing” about that, said Melcher if when the agent doesn’t tell the parent who may be paying the agent for independent advice, but in fact the agent isn’t giving independent advice, but instead giving them advice based on who is paying them a commission.
 
According to Melcher, the first sector the government is looking to regulate is foreign owned agents which he says represents only a “tiny fraction of the agents.”  When you look at the news reports and the complaints of parents, it’s not clear that the foreign agents bear a disproportionate share of the burden,” he says. Melcher says it is not clear to him whether the proposed regulations would entail just the foreign agents, foreign owned agents or also the domestic owned agents.
 
The regulations are still in the proposal stage and “in China the process of going from proposal to law to something that’s actually enforced is not at all clear,” said Melcher.
 
If the proposals do become law, Melcher says it could leave Chinese students seeking an overseas education also seeking help that might not be available. “Just look at the numbers,” says Melcher. “In any given year, if you look at Chinese high school seniors, there are about 10 million of them every year” Of those, “about 50 thousand go to the US every year for undergraduate study and about 50 thousand go to the US every year for graduate study.” With that number of students seeking a US education, “there clearly are not enough people in China who have the expertise required” to help these students figure out where they should go to school.
 
As far as whether the proposals will become law, Melcher says he has no inside knowledge about the situation, but does note that “the timing of the announcement, when it came out during this political transition, when it got picked up in the press “scored some points” for the government. “Whether it turns into something and whether it gets done and whether people get affected by it, I’m pretty laid back about it.”  The reason for that, says Melcher, is that the way the proposals are now drafted, it would be relatively straightforward for foreign owned agents in China to hook up with licensed Chinese agents and just continue to do business.
 
Melcher says this comes as more and more Chinese students are applying to study in the US. He says as it now stands, there is not enough help for the 100 thousand or so Chinese students who go to the US to study every year. He says there are not enough people in China who can help them.
 
As far as the timing of the proposals, Melcher says it comes during a Chinese government transition and provides positive publicity for a perception that the government is trying to do something about what many in China feel is a negative situation.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs