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How to avoid fake universities and fishing bait like Farmington

As education sharks are roaming around to prey, we present a guide on how to mitigate hunters and reach to a genuine university/institute. In this era of commercialization of education, the fake universities and economic frauds in educational institutions have become norms throughout the globe. 

How to avoid fake universities and fishing bait like Farmington
Education Market Image Credit: Flickr

With the arrest of 90 more students in connection with the fake University of Farmington case, the headcount has reached to 250. Besides the alleged violations of the visa norms, this international education scam has raised many questions. Though the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the US has called it a sting, the agency is silent on the ownership of US$250,000 recovered from the alleged eight operators. Will the money be refunded to the students? The agency is non-committal on this issue, till date. The lesson from this episode is - you must be very careful about your money and time before taking any decision for investment.

The fake universities and economic frauds on the name of education are byproducts of commercialization of education. As profit is the top priority, the role of agents and liaison officers have become very important. They often work with an aim to enroll maximum students and make money from education market. How to avoid these education sharks? Here we provide a guide book to wade through the fishy education market and identify genuine institution/ university.

Wake up early: The lazy and indecisive students increase their chances of being trapped due to the eleventh hours' rush. Therefore, you need to plan early and start gathering the information even before the application is out in the market. Every piece of information about the credentials of the university and the course you are seeking for will be very useful in your planning. Some foreign missions organize special sessions and education fairs for aspirants of the universities in their respective countries. Here the university representatives also participate. You need to be in touch with the foreign missions and attend their selected programs in your own country to gather maximum possible information.

Have Options: You need not to be crazy about a particular country or university or subject. Prepare a list of your desired countries, universities/institutes and subjects on the basis of a credible ranking and accreditation system. In this age of interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary subjects, the talent and interest is more important than boundaries of subjects and nations. Finalize at least three countries and a couple of institutes/ universities in each country before starting the process of application. Though the options may not be used, it will boost your confidence and help in posing genuine questions to the counsellor/ liaison officer of the university you interact with.

Critically Review 'Moon' Promises: This is the first stage of danger. You need to differentiate between realistic and unrealistic or moon promises. The visa rules and news updates about the targeted country, university and discipline may help you in critical review of the promises made by the university or on its behalf.

Cross Verification: The accreditation, grading, and credentials of the university need to be cross verified. Besides information available on portals of the concerned agencies, email communication with the embassy of the country could be very important in this case. You must save and preserve the replies of the concerned embassies/ consulates for use in any potential crisis.

Raise Questions: You like it or not, the educational institutions/ universities are no less than a shop or shopping complex. Here your inquisitive nature will help you. Ask questions to clear your doubts. Withdraw in case of the slightest confusion and move to next option without any hesitation.

Value Your Money: Always remember, no institute or university is going to do a favor. They are charging you as much as they can. This is either hard-earned money of your parents or you will have to work hard to return it with interest to the funding agency.

Immediate Withdrawal: If at any point of time you feel of being misinformed or kept in the dark, withdraw immediately and initiate legal process to recover your money. This is quite easy if the problem is identified before being enrolled.

Assess Damage: In case you came across with the problem after you are enrolled in the institute/university, first of all assess the potential damage. Divide all the services into two categories – core education facilities and auxiliary services. Prepare a PDG Chart (Promise – Delivery Gap) to assess the situation. You may also seek the help of an education consultant. If the problem has potential for long term irreparable damage to your learning and career, there is no point to stay with the institute/ university.

Raise Alarm: As soon as you know about the problem, report to your embassy or any other suitable platform. Even a letter or email to your parents will also help at the time of crisis to strength your position as a victim.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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