Agent-switching under spotlight in India

Published 18/08/2022

A LinkedIn post has kicked off a discussion about the ethics of scholarship offers to students in the competitive Indian recruitment ecosystem, as multiple education agents have acknowledged that other companies have approached their students.

Taking to the social media platform this month, one business criticised another for asking students to sign authorisation letters to transfer agents, saying that the company is “misleading students with promises of fake scholarships”.

But the company in question – Leverage Edu – has defended its actions, saying that in the client consultation being referred to, its team member made clear that the scholarship on offer is an additional one provided by Leverage, as opposed to one funded by the university.

A spokesperson from Leverage said, “We do provide students our very own Leverage Edu Scholarship that has a corpus of around 700,000 GBP (it’s on our website, it’s public).

“This scholarship is funded by us and we give it to promising students every year.”

The PIE has verified that the counsellor on the recording does inform the student that the additional scholarship on offer is from Leverage.

Leverage Edu says it has lost students to scholarship offers by other agencies, and shared adverts reading “Have an admit from UK? Get your scholarship now!”

“It would be nicer, like Canada, if there was no change of agents possible”

Samrat Kar from Leverage Edu also took to LinkedIn and said that at least 7 agencies were using such tactics.

“We lost 100s of students in the last intake, all last-minute, to scholarships, sometimes even more than the full commission we receive from universities,” Kar wrote.

“Realised these guys had raised more money to lure students in, and that was that. Next intake, we worked harder on improving our student retention. This Sep, it wasn’t a factor anymore. ”

Abhishek Nakhate of Zoom Abroad argued that universities should not allow students to transfer agents after the application is processed.

“Most of the universities are very stringent about [it] – they do not transfer. But some of them are not as diligent,” he said. “It would be nicer, like Canada, if there was no change of agents possible.”

Masud Hasan, founder of admissions portal ApplyCourses, claims that one of his students was approached by an unknown agency that knew the student had secured a place at a UK university, and offered the student additional scholarships.

Parin Shah, CEO of Indian agency Back2Study, also said that his students had also been approached about additional scholarships.

Leverage’s Kar revealed that in one similar situation that had happened to them, the other agency had a staff member in a common group with students being counselled by Leverage, and the situation was resolved.

“We do over 200,000 1:1 counselling every single month, which covers a very large proportion of interested people at any given point of time,” a Leverage Edu spokesperson told The PIE.

“Students across stages [of application] also download our community to interact with peers and universities directly.”

They added, “From our exhaustive systems itself, we do have unhappy students from other agencies reach out to us for post-admission services.”

Discussing agencies aggressively competing for students, Nakhate observed, “It is a problem with the industry overall, in my opinion.”

Kar – noting the prevalence of scholarship offers – wrote, “None of the above is immoral or any of those things. It’s just doing business in a very competitive space.”

*The original LinkedIn post is now deleted.

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