This week, we interview Dr.C.B.Paul Chellakumar, Patron of the Association of Accredited Advisors on Overseas Education (AAAOE) in India about recent association activity and how the sector needs more regulation.

When was the association/group founded and why?
The association was founded on May 31 2003 in order to bring credibility to the industry and to formalise the operations under the leadership of myself who was the first consultancy in India for overseas education.

What is its primary role/function?
The primary function of the association is to create awareness of overseas education, oversee quality standards including a code of practice, conduct seminars and pre-departure sessions, attend to complaints from students and parents, and safeguard the interest of its members.

What has been the main focus of AAAOE in the last 12 months?
We have attended international education fairs; our newsletter has been circulated to schools and colleges; we have conducted workshops at various colleges; conducted executive committee meetings as well as our AGM. Membership of AAAOE is open only on invitation through the recommendation of two existing members.

How does AAAOE differ from the Association of Australian Educational Representatives of India (AAERI)?
AAERI only has members representing Australian universities and it is pro-Australia but we have members representing various countries.

For an agency, what are the benefits of being a member of AAAOE?

Our membership takes up the profile of the member not only within the industry but also in the market.

Are you aware of the Federation of Education and Language Consultant Associations (Felca)? Has AAAOE considered becoming a member?

We are always interested in international collaboration and we would love to become a part of Felca on mutual interest.

Please tell us about the outbound agency market in India. In your opinion, does it need more regulation?
The country certainly needs proper regulation as the market has witnessed several unethical practices and there are many that claim to be ‘sub-agents’ in operation.

How do you ensure standards are maintained among member agencies? 

They are all qualified, experienced, and genuine agencies and their standards are checked at the admission stage itself. Any complaints about an agency received from the public could result in a loss of membership after checking into the facts.

What challenges do member agencies face over the next 12 months?
The market remains the same but the destination has changed due to policy changes in the host country and students are keen on their post study avenues.

What marketing projects does the association have planned for the future?
Executive members are participating in live interviews on television and other electronic media as well as frequenting seminars at colleges and universities to promote study abroad.

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