Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education administers standardized assessments, including the Grade 12 or university entrance exam, to evaluate student performance. In recent years, the overall passing rate has experienced a significant decline, sparking widespread concern.

This decline has prompted students to explore alternative avenues for higher education, leading to a surge in demand for foreign education opportunities. However, this increased demand has also fostered the emergence of deceptive practices within the foreign education consultancy industry.

While reputable consultancies exist, it is essential to expose the misleading tactics employed by unscrupulous individuals within this sector. This article aims to shed light on these deceptive practices, emphasizing the importance of informed decision-making when selecting an education consultancy.

The Ethiopian foreign education consultancy landscape comprises a range of consultancies, with varying degrees of legitimacy. Some consultancies operate with registered licenses, while others operate without proper authorization. The prevalence of deceptive practices employed by these unlicensed or illegal consultancies is particularly concerning.

Evidence indicates that these consultancies are increasingly engaging in false promises and misleading advertisements, primarily through popular social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. These advertisements often make exaggerated claims about guaranteed admissions to prestigious universities, scholarships, and lucrative post-graduation employment opportunities.

However, these promises are often baseless and serve primarily to attract vulnerable students who are desperately seeking to secure their future. The reality is that admissions to reputable universities are highly competitive, scholarships are limited, and post-graduation job prospects depend on a multitude of factors.

Another deceptive tactic employed by disreputable consultancies is the falsification of credentials and affiliations. To gain credibility and trust, these consultancies may fabricate partnerships with renowned universities, government agencies, or accreditation bodies that do not exist. By presenting themselves as authorized representatives of prestigious institutions, they exploit the aspirations of students and their families, leading them to believe they are receiving credible guidance.

Additionally, disreputable consultancies may fabricate success stories and testimonials, creating fake profiles of students who supposedly achieved remarkable outcomes through their services. These fabricated success stories and testimonials are strategically placed on websites, brochures, and social media platforms to instill confidence in potential clients. However, these accounts are far from genuine and serve as a means to manipulate and mislead students.

Furthermore, some consultancies manipulate information to their advantage, withholding crucial details such as the actual costs involved, visa requirements, or job market conditions in the chosen destination. By creating a false sense of security, they lure students into making ill-informed decisions that may have serious financial and career implications.

In some instances, consultancies may even engage in unauthorized practices, claiming to be recruitment agents or representatives of universities. They may charge exorbitant fees for application processing under the pretense of having direct connections with admissions departments.

It is important to note that legitimate universities have designated channels and authorized agents for student recruitment. Students falling prey to these unauthorized practices risk losing money, wasting time on fraudulent applications, and jeopardizing their chances of securing admissions to reputable institutions.

Certain education consultancies may make enticing promises of financial support, including pocket money and full tuition coverage at designated universities. However, these false assurances often lead to visa application rejections, causing significant distress and financial hardship.

Driven by desperation for opportunities, many individuals have fallen prey to these fraudulent practices, incurring substantial financial losses. Consultancies may demand prepayments of up to 300,000 birr, a considerable amount for Ethiopian families. Some families have even resorted to selling their land in an attempt to secure a brighter future for their children.

HaqCheck dedicated its efforts to uncovering these scams and the associated misinformation, gathering firsthand accounts from victims. The harrowing experiences of these individuals underscore the emotional and financial toll caused by these deceptive practices, emphasizing the urgent need for stricter regulations and oversight within the foreign education consultancy industry to safeguard others from falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

While the majority of applicants genuinely seek to pursue higher education, some individuals are solely motivated by the prospect of leaving the country and seeking asylum. These decisions, even among asylum seekers facing homelessness in Toronto, highlight the pervasive influence of disinformation.

In response to the rampant spread of misinformation, Ethiopians residing abroad who have successfully pursued educational opportunities are actively sharing detailed information regarding the required documentation and application procedures through various channels. Individuals like Estifanos from Ohub and Gedion are among those providing invaluable guidance.

Credible platforms, such as the Col John Robinson American Corner, provide accurate information and descriptions regarding foreign education. They regularly host education fairs at the US embassy and Satchmo Center, where students have the opportunity to connect with experts who offer detailed explanations of the legal pathways to securing scholarship opportunities and visas.

Even if education consultancies demonstrate a genuine commitment to guiding and assisting students, it remains crucial to recognize and expose the disinformation tactics employed by unscrupulous individuals within the sector. Students and their families must exercise utmost vigilance and conduct thorough research before engaging with any consultancy.

Verifying credentials, seeking recommendations, and meticulously cross-checking information are essential steps in making informed decisions. Empowering students with the knowledge and tools to make discerning choices is crucial in safeguarding their educational aspirations.

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