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Around 5,000 Indian educational consultants, a majority of them based out of Punjab, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, are in the process of floating an ‘Association of Overseas Educational Consultancies (AOIC)’, said Surya Ganesh Valmiki, chairman and managing director of city-based Valmiki Group.
“We have been harping on the idea to form the association for the past one year, and it will become a reality in the next six months,” he said, adding that Andhra Pradesh alone had about 2,000 small and big overseas educational consultancies, and it was time to check the credentials of these agents.
The proposed association will have its national headquarters in Hyderabad. One retired top cop, who was earlier associated with the State Task Force, will head the association, which initially is expected to have about 500 members. “The reason for the mushrooming consultancies is due to almost no-entry barrier and almost no investment. And, everybody wants to cash in on from the craze for overseas education. We also find fault with parents and students who are always in a rush and look for shortcut methods,” he said. Stating that the association will also approach the Centre for a strong governing body to regulate education consultancy services, Valmiki said the Indian government was earlier considering setting up a monitoring agency but nothing much had moved since then. The US has over 5,000 institutions and accounts for 25% of the top 200 universities in the world.
Unlike general perception, the enrolments of Indian students in US varsities had not come down and at the same time had not gone up drastically, he said. “There is a slump everywhere. However, a lot of students prefer America for their higher education. In India, New Delhi, Punjab, Mumbai, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka top for studies in the US,” said Himesh Bhatnagar, an independent US visa consultant and former chief consular investigator (anti-fraud unit), US Embassy. According to him, a little over 100,000 Indian students seek admission in various US universities each year. Indians are the second biggest community after China, seeking admission there, he said. “Indians account for nearly 14% of the total international student population in the US, which had about 800,000 international students studying in that country. University of Southern California, University of Illinois and the New York University are the three top varsities with highest international student population,” Bhatnagar added.