Dog & Pony Show Revisited: At an Education UK Exhibition?

Say it ain’t so, Joe!  I happened to be in the neighborhood and decided to stop by the British Council Vietnam’s Education UK Exhibition in HCMC, which was held on 13 March at the Rex Hotel.  Much to my surprise and disappointment, I noticed large groups of students, school uniforms and all (on a Sunday?), being accompanied to the venue.  They were college (3-year institution) students whose chances of studying in the UK range from slim to none, in most cases.

uk exhibition dog and pony show
It’s showtime!

Why?  It’s what I like to call a dog and pony show approach to fair organizing.  Rather than rely on quality organic attendance, which becomes a reality as a result of hard work both on- and offline, and sweating bullets until the doors open and attendees begin trickling in (or flooding) in, you can guarantee attendance and at least make the event look successful, plus create great photo ops by busing students in.  This is a tried-and-true tactic of unethical fair organizers but not something I expected to see from a respected organization like the BC.  To put it bluntly, it’s a form of cheating and the victims are the representatives who travel halfway across the world to recruit from among a pool of potential students.  I wonder if their leadership is aware of this?  If not, maybe they are now.  (Another tactic is to pay for student referrals, as I described in my last post.  There are also services that enable you to hire faux students.)

Here’s a relevant excerpt from a 12/14 article I wrote about unethical business practices among education agents and other educational consulting companies:

Artificially inflating attendance at physical events, for instance fairs, by paying schools to bus in students, many of whom have little to no interest in the event and thus are not ‘quality students’, or simply paying a service to hire fake students to attend the fair or information session, making it a dog and pony show rather than a legitimate event.

Walking the walk – Ethical agency-based recruitment

cheatingMy recommendation to BC Vietnam, as to any fair organizer, is to focus more on reaching out to quality students.  Institutions pay a lot of money to travel to Vietnam and deserve the chance to meet and interact with legitimate students not waste precious time talking to young people who are essentially “props” for the fair organizer.

Memo to organizations and companies that engage in this unethical practice:  Most recruiters can see through this sham after talking to one or two of these students.

Q:  Do you plan to study abroad?

  • A1:  No, my school organized this trip for me and my classmates.
  • A2:  No my school organized this trip for me and my classmates so we could practice our English.

You can only fool some of the people some of the time.  Let’s take it to the next level and do the right thing, folks.


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