What are agents?
Language travel agents, also called educational consultants or student recruiters, can play a useful if not vital role in helping you choose a language school, high school or university. They can book your course, accommodation and help with any special requirements you may have. They usually also help you with your pre-departure preparation, for example, by organising English testing or providing you with practical information about living in another country. Agents might also be able to help you with any problems that arise while you are abroad and can be a useful contact for anxious parents.
There are many agents worldwide, and most receive a commission from the educational institutions they represent, although they might also charge you a handling fee to cover their administrative costs and time.
What are the advantages of using agents?
The process of choosing an overseas education programme and study destination can be a difficult business. Travelling to another country can be a scary experience, especially if it is your first time away from home, and any confusion or mistake regarding your choice of institution or course will only make it more difficult to settle in and make the most of your experience. Agents take the uncertainty out of the whole experience by ensuring before you set off that your chosen institution and course are the best ones for you.
Agents usually represent a whole range of schools, and have often visited most of them, so you can rely on their advice concerning which type of institution and course will suit you best. They will usually have a personal link with the institution so they can provide you with up-to-date information in your own language about the course and school. They may also be able to put you in touch with students who have studied at or who are studying in the same institution, so that you can get a first-hand account of what to expect when you arrive.
Agents can also be vital in explaining and helping with the application and visa process, something which can seem very complicated in a foreign language. Because agents deal with school and visa applications every day, they are in a good position to give you the best advice about how to apply.
Where do I find a good agent?
There are a number of national agent associations worldwide, which provide and monitor standards to ensure the good working practice of their members.
The Federation of Education and Language Consultants Associations (Felca) is an association of language and education travel associations from all over the world. Its members include the national associations of most of the major student providing countries in the world and more information, including addresses and web links to agent associations in your country, can be found at www.felca.org.
If you don’t have an agent association in your country, ask other students if they can recommend an agent that they have already used. Your school or university might also be able to give you information and advice about local agents.