Two firms found without license

Yangyel Lhaden

With thousands of Bhutanese leaving overseas to study or work, the so-called education consultancy and placement firms (ECPFs) has become a lucrative business.

The competition to send as many clients is becoming an issue with some firms not registered or recognised by authorities. The ignorance of Bhutanese in a rush to leave is not helping either.

The Quality Assurance and Accreditation Division (QAAD) with the adult and higher education department (DAHE), the regulatory body recently has come across two unregistered firms. Following advertisement on social media, the division found that the APAX Education and Visa Consultancy and Empire International Education and Visa Services were not registered with DAHE.

The notice on Novemeber 3, from DAHE stated, “ The department hereby notifies that DAHE cannot assist people who avail services from unregistered entities and therefore shall not be accountable for such placement.” The notice also advised people to check the status of firms and avail services from firms registered with DAHE.

The division is concerned if the students are placed in universities not recognised by the competent host country, there would be issues related to recognition of the qualifications later. “Without a valid license, unregistered firms may not be able to work with good institutions which will lead to placement of students to substandard institutions and places,” a QAAD official said.

The safety of students upon placement is another major concern. QAAD officials said that there was a thin line between placement of students through unregistered ECPFs and trafficking in person.

There are 38 registered such firms with DAHE. QAAD receives enquiries from institutions to confirm the status of institutions before establishing formal linkages with the ECPFs. The department informs the Cottage and Industry Department when a firm is unregistered.

The registered firms are required to follow the provisions of the guidelines for ECPFs to ensure quality services are provided to individuals.

Two registered firms,  VIEC Bhutan ECPF and Education Pro ECPF are having compliance issues. The Department has requested them to take corrective measures.

If the firms fail to ensure compliance, it may result in administrative action as per the provisions of the guideline including cancellation of registration.

QAAD officials said that the department met with ECPFs annually to reiterate the importance of their role and reminded them of the provisions of guidelines.