I continue to document and add to my rather lengthy inventory the many ways in which educational consulting companies cheat their clients and partners. This began with an article I wrote in 12/14 for University World News entitled Walking the walk – Ethical agency-based recruitment.
Here’s one that involves an upcoming US higher education mini-fair. It’s what I’m fond of calling the “dog and pony show” approach to pre-event marketing. Why do it the old-fashioned way – through extensive and costly on- and offline marketing – when you can simply bribe “students” to come to your event? It’s easy, cheap and guarantees quantity, if not quality. You want 500 students? No problem! Pay 50,000 VND per student. Psst – hey, everyone! We’ll pay you $2.25 in cold hard cash, if you register online, come to our fair and bring a friend. That’s $1,125 – what a bargain!
If you really wanna rock ‘n roll, you can get 1,000 “students” for $2,250! Then you can say in your promotional materials and on your website that it’s the BIGGEST FAIR IN VIETNAM! Tell ’em what they wanna hear. Bigger is better and money make$ the world go round, right?!?
I don’t know how many of these students are actually interested in overseas study, especially in the USA, but they are warm bodies who will create some buzz and make the fair look “successful.” This is one of a number of ways to artificially inflate fair attendance. Others include busing in students, most of whom have no intention of studying overseas. For them it’s a field trip and a chance to practice their English with unsuspecting colleagues who have not paid lots of money to travel to Vietnam and practice their English with young people who have no intention of studying in the US.
Note to recruiters: If most of the students are wearing the same school uniform, your fair organizer has probably bused them in. This is also a common practice among local partners who organize events for regional tours. Keep the clients happy – at all costs!