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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid