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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid