There are approximately 100 universities in Canada. Each offers a variety of locations, environments, campus communities, academic programs, student supports, on campus accommodations, facilities, student clubs and other services. There is a university to match everyone’s needs if you take the time to do your research. However, therein lies the issue.
Most students don’t take the time to do the research to determine the best fit for them. An alternative to doing the research yourself is turning to an education consultant or agent who can help you find an institution meeting your needs.
Many Canadian universities work with a select group of partners, which they have “approved” to represent them either in certain countries, regions or across the globe. Many institutions will list those partners on their respective websites. If a university has listed a company on their website, you can have some assurance that the university has done their due diligence and has made sure that their representative is operating in the most ethical manner possible.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and there are education consultants and agents who misrepresent partnerships, don’t always look out for the student’s best interest, and in extreme cases, are outright fraudulent. I’m here to try and help you figure out which education consultants and agents you can trust and some of the warning signs to look out for.
As I previously mentioned, the first place you should check is the website of the institution you are considering. This will give you a level of security knowing that the agent or consultant will be acting in your best interest (and if they aren’t, make sure you let the university know). If you don’t know which university you are interested in or where to begin, start by doing a little bit of research yourself.
A great place to start is by visiting the Universities Canada website (https://www.univcan.ca/). Here you can find a list of all the accredited universities in Canada listed by province and a link to their websites. This will provide you with a solid foundation on where to go next, which is usually contacting the university directly. If you contact the Student Recruitment, Admissions or Registrar’s Office of the institution, you should hear back from someone who can help you out.
The more difficult task is trying to find an education consultant or agent when the university doesn’t list any. After doing a quick Google search using “Education Agents Canada”, I found that there were many results (over 184 million hits). From here, use your critical thinking skills to determine who you might want to use – like choosing a restaurant – check their website, fee structure, accreditation, location, reviews etc. to find out which meets your needs.
One of the first questions to consider is “are they accredited, and if so, by whom?” Associations such as the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) or Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) or the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) are all trustworthy organizations that you can depend on and if a consultant or agent is a member of one of these associations, you can feel confident in your choice.
Alternatively, if you like to live life a bit more on the wild side and want to choose a consultant or agent that isn’t a member of one of these associations, here are some things to consider asking for:
• A copy of their business license and any accreditation they may have – make sure to take a look at how long they have been in the industry and whether or not they have changed company names over time and whether or not they are in good standing;
• List of current or past clients (both students/families and universities) that you can contact to get some feedback;
• Statistics on the profile of clients they work with and a list of institutions they have helped send students to;
• A copy of any contracts you would need to sign which should include a list of all fees;
• A clear list of what services they do and do not offer and what, if any promises they are making (any reputable consultant or agent will not make promises such as guaranteeing admission or immigration);
• Do they hire or sub-contract to any third parties or other consultants/agents;
• Do they have any current certificates or valid partnership agreements with universities
It is very easy to forge documents, certificates, agreements etc. so make sure that you do your due diligence and ask questions so that you don’t find yourself spending hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) on someone who is trying to defraud you. The good news is that most education consultants and agents are genuinely interested in helping you find the best university for you, so you don’t need to be paranoid or reluctant. If they appear to be more interested in sending you to a specific institution, or are focused on the fees and money, or ask for money up front as a retainer, odds are they won’t have your best interest at heart, and you should look for another consultant or agent. At the end of the day, this is about your needs and wants and who is going to help you get to where you want to go. All the best with your university search and in finding a consultant that is right for you.
DIRECTOR STUDENT RECRUITMENT & RETENTION
DIRECTEUR, RECRUTEMENT ET RÉTENTION DES ÉTUDIANTS
2600 RUE COLLEGE
SHERBROOKE, QC CANADA