Govt. finalises draft Bill to rein in educational consultants
Kerala will soon introduce a law to regulate the burgeoning industry of educational consultancy services. The government has finalised a draft Bill recommended by an expert committee. The proposed legislation is likely to be tabled during the upcoming Budget session of the Assembly.
The absence of a regulatory mechanism has paved the way for unbridled growth of the education consultancy market, including study abroad consultants, with several higher education aspirants falling prey to exploitation.
Unofficial estimates have recorded an increase in the number of students being lured by attractive opportunities to study and settle abroad. However, several youngsters have fallen victim to rackets that thrive on offering admissions in institutions abroad using forged admission letters, bogus visas, and other documents. There have also been complaints regarding substandard institutions in other States, including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, that have duped students through agents in Kerala.
“Many students have also complained of being accommodated in deplorable living conditions. Some students have managed to return, but not all are equally fortunate after having availed themselves of student loans and paid exorbitant sums to the agencies,” Higher Education Minister R. Bindu said.
She added that many students, enticed by the promise of migration, failed to make enquiries regarding the universities where they had been promised admission. Complaints regarding agencies reneging on their promise to facilitate admissions after collecting payment were also on the rise.
Dr. Bindu said the regulatory platform would enable the government to monitor the activities of education consultancy agencies that would come under the purview of the law.
A three-member committee, constituted by Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) and chaired by Digital University Kerala Vice-Chancellor Saji Gopinath, has submitted a host of recommendations, including creating a database of students migrating from the State. It has also called for creating a comprehensive database of education consultancy firms through proper registration process. It also called for establishing a grievance redressal mechanism and ensuring accountability for the fees paid by the applicants.
Having finetuned the draft Bill, the Higher Education department has submitted the document to the Law department for vetting.