Aggregator model concerns renewed after agent arrest
An education agent has been arrested by Indian authorities after police reportedly found fake transcripts in their office.
Swati Soni, a director at KC Overseas Education, was arrested after authorities raided the company’s Anand offices in the state of Gujarat, according to local media. Soni was also a partner an immigration consultancy known as Galaxy Consultancy.
It is understood that the Anand offices were a franchise branch of KC Overseas and the company has terminated its contract with the operators of the franchise.
A man accused of providing the marksheets was arrested alongside Soni. A police officer told reporters the transcripts were being used to help customers acquire UK visas.
Representatives from KC Overseas said they had checked the academic documents of all students who had applied to partner institutions from the Anand branch and found them to be “genuine and in order”.
They said Swati Soni was “acting independently” and the company was not involved in the incident.
“KC Overseas maintains strict policies and processes to check and verify students’ applications and documents at our head office in Nagpur,” a KC Overseas spokesperson told The PIE News.
“We have a back-office team strength of over 650+ country experts who review and scrutinise each application and the authenticity of the documentation before it is submitted to our partner universities.
“If we find any application to be incomplete or the documentation improper, we reject the application at the scrutiny stage itself. In this manner, we ensure that only the most filtered and eligible applications with genuine documentation reach the universities.”
The Association of Australian Education Representatives in India confirmed it has suspended KC Overseas as a member in line with its code of conduct and executives are awaiting more information.
The incident has renewed concerns about the regulation of franchise and sub-aggregator models of student recruitment.
It follows the arrest in June of an agent accused of forging admission letters to Canadian colleges. Brijesh Mishra was formerly registered with edtech aggregator ApplyBoard, but the company has now revoked his access to the platform.
“They cannot just pass the ball”
Nishidhar Reddy Borra, president of AAERI, said all agencies are responsible for the actions of their sub-agents and franchise branches.
“They cannot just pass the ball,” he said.
“The model adopted by tech-aggregators is also concerning, they appoint anyone and everyone as their agents, there is minimum checks or no checks.
“Universities need to be careful while working with such aggregators.”
He added that AAERI is unable to take disciplinary action against sub-agents of aggregators.
According to AgentBee, KC Overseas was working with approximately 3,000 sub-agents in June 2023, down from 9,000 at the start of the year.
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