“Students should be very careful in consulting academic counseling agencies as there are several fraudulent agencies seeking to fleece them of their money in the name of student visas,” Education Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman said on Thursday.
Rehman was talking to The Express Tribune at the Study UK Expo 2011, organised by the Student Counseling Services, an educational agency trained by the British Council Pakistan.
He urged the students to report any fraudulent groups to the Education Ministry so that action could be taken against them.
The exhibition with 20 national and international college/university stalls attracted few students.
Besides consultation services, representatives of various institutions also offered help with the admissions, language courses and tests for scholarships.
Umer Waseem, a senior administrator from NAMAL College in Namal village, Mianwali, said that being an associate college of the University of Bradford (UoB) UK, Namal College conferred on its students a UoB degree.
“An engineering degree from Namal costs around Rs800,000. However, a similar degree from other equivalent colleges in the UK cost as much as Rs8 million. We at Namal College pay the rest of the amount from the charity,” he said.
He said that 198 out of 200 students at the college were on scholarships and belonged to the rural areas.
An international English language testing system (IELTS) stall had also been set up by the British Council. Mudassar Ishtiaq, an assistant examination officer, talked about the speed, simplicity and affordability of IELTS registration process at the British Council. He said results were announced online within 13 days of the test.
For legal advice regarding immigration and visa processes, a stall of an immigration law firm had also been setup.
Hasnain Naveed Raja, a legal adviser at an immigration firm, said that some students faced complications in getting visas. “We help such students to resolve the objections on their application and appeal again,” he said.
Hassan Zaheer, a representative of an IELTS preparation centre, VIEC Training Centre, said that their franchise in Pakistan was affiliated with 350 institutes in various countries including the UK, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore and Dubai.
“Some students become victim of human traffickers who trap them and send them abroad on fake student visas,” he said.
Organisers said that the purpose of the expo was to provide career counseling to students aspiring to obtain overseas degrees. Thousands of opportunities were wasted in Pakistan as students lacked proper academic and career guidance, they said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2011.
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