Kudos to the four (4) Reuters reporters for their outstanding work on this investigative report. Only when this type of unethical behavior sees the publication light of day and the proverbial shit hits the fan is there any action, in most cases. While there are some Vietnamese companies that would love to have this kind of reach and influence, I don’t think any do…yet.
There are companies that are happy to write statements of purpose (SOPs) and “teacher” letters of recommendation for students whose goal is to gain admission to a highly selective institution, and are richly rewarded for doing so. It’s not that the young people in question are poor students, it’s that an “enhanced profile” may result in more scholarship funding.
Parents and students who work with these types of companies can be viewed as willing co-conspirators. The former view this partnership in unethical conduct and the upfront costs associated with it (think 5-10-15k or much more) as an “investment” in their children’s future. Ideally, the ROI is a generous scholarship package and, of course, bragging rights.
Does it work? In most cases, yes. Why? Because US colleagues do not have enough time or resources to verify as part of the “trust but verify” process. This explains the growing popularity of video interviews because, to a certain extent, seeing and hearing are believing.
P.S.: Gotta love the name of the offending company. Kinda reminds me of the name of a certain famous family associated with my home state of Delaware. Hint: think gunpowder and chemicals. 😉