26 Jun To Use or Not to Use an Education Agency to Study in New Zealand
Many students aspiring to have an international education in New Zealand wonder if they should apply to schools with the help of an education agency or do it on their own. The answer is, it depends. There are pros and cons in any situation. In this case, it really depends on your individual situation and what you think will work for you.
That said, there are factors that should come into play as you make your decision. We’ll cover a few of them in this article.
Factors to Consider in Applying Directly to Universities vs. Through an Education Agent
Obviously, hiring an education agent will be an additional expense on top of your school tuition, flight fare, Visa processing fees, accommodations, living expenses, and etc. There is a number of Education New Zealand Recognised Agencies that you can choose from, some more affordable than others.
That being said, it’s important to consider that services provided by Education Agencies can actually make your New Zealand journey less expensive. On top of providing advice about a university or programme that is in line with your academic background and professional goals, agencies can provide assistance with English Language Tests, Visa processing and even advice on culture and etiquette.
In addition, education agencies are affiliated with relevant organisations to get you good deals in, for example, insurance plans, travel fares, and accommodations. Their goal is to make your New Zealand journey as worry-free as possible. It may seem like an additional expense to your school tuition, but going through an agency can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
A genuine education agent will advise you properly and will prioritise your interests so that you can get the quality education and assistance you deserve.
On the other hand, if you prefer to apply directly to the school of your choice, it is possible. You just need to do a little bit more research.
Remember, applying directly to the school doesn’t mean you will get discounts. Schools will apply their standard fees. And if someone tries to give you a huge tuition free cut? Be wary. You should think twice about the quality of education you may end up getting in that school.
Researching takes a lot of time. Thankfully, there is a wealth of information you can find online on your own to make this process easier. You can visit the Study in New Zealand website– it has loads of helpful information to guide you. You can also email the Foreign Students Department or International Student Support of the school you want to go to and they will advise you for free. Another free option is to interview your friends or join online communities and ask them for help and guidance. Just make sure to sift through the information and identify trustworthy sources.
If you do not have a lot of time on your hands (ex. you work), it’s better to go through an agency. Education Agencies accredited by Education New Zealand are trained to assist you through all the steps you need to take. They can follow up with universities or provide Visa interview tips. They can give you customised options and all you need to do is make a decision. It’s efficient and less stressful.
3. University / Programme
Many students start off not knowing what university they want to attend and what programme they want to take. New Zealand has 8 Universities, 16 Institutes and Polytechnics, and 212 Private Training Establishments. Taking the DIY route, it’s a good idea to come up with your list of preferences in terms of programmes or modules offered, facilities available, location, etc. Then, do a quick online search for university or institution rankings. This should give you a list of schools which you can then begin researching.
It’s also worthwhile to check if there are any International Education Fairs in your city. It’s a great way to meet official school representatives to help you decide. Attendance is usually free.
One benefit of going through an Education Agency (aside from being able to provide you with a tailor-fit list of schools to match your preferences) is that they are experts in the industry and have important connections with the schools. They may have insider knowledge of offers or grants offered by institutions. If a university you like has a partnership with an agency, all the better. It’s not a guarantee of acceptance, but it will help.
That said, beware of education agents who recommend partner schools to you just because they will earn a higher commission if you study there. So, make sure that they explain to you why it is your best choice and take the time to research the school or programme as well.
If English is not your first language and you have trouble communicating in English, an agency is a great way to get guidance in your local language. They will understand where you are coming from and the struggles that you may have as you go through the process. You’ll be able to meet with them face-to-face and work with you in person.
The other side of the coin is, of course, communicating directly with the New Zealand university or institution is the perfect opportunity to practice your English skills. After all, it is something that you need to practice anyway when you live in the country.
Doing the application process on your own develops independence. You will not only be responsible for applying to the school, but also for making your travel arrangements, finding accommodations, opening a local bank account, getting insurance, and everything else that goes with living on your own in a foreign country.
For those who have family members or friends in New Zealand already, this may not be such a big deal. But for most, studying abroad means living on your own. An Agency connection can take care of you when you arrive in New Zealand, and sometimes even provide guidance until you graduate.
With the help of an education agent (particularly those with NZ affiliations), you’ll be able to build connections with the local community. They are a good source of information to help you start out in New Zealand.
In cases of emergency, at least you have someone you can ask for help from too.
A lot of students looking to study in New Zealand also want to work or immigrate there eventually. If this is your goal, most education agents are also trained to provide immigration advice. Of course, this is something you can directly check out at the New Zealand Immigration website on your own. But it may come in handy in the future knowing that you can ask for professional advice from your education agent.
A Note of Caution: Fraudulent Education Agencies in New Zealand
International Education is a billion dollar industry in New Zealand. Fraudulent education agencies are an unfortunate reality that the New Zealand Education Ministry and international students have to contend with. In 2016, there was a report of education agents who faked visa documents of Indian students who were then faced deportation. Because these agencies are not accredited, they are incapable of giving proper and appropriate advice. It is your responsibility to check the legality and accreditation of the education agency you choose. Be vigilant!
The decision to do-it-yourself or to go through an agency is a complex one. Carefully consider the factors we covered and seek advice from your family and friends. Whichever path you choose, remember that you will be getting an international degree at the end of the line. That is something that is worth pursuing despite any challenges that you may face.
If you are leaning towards going through an agency, please consider working with Ahead International Education. We are 100% committed to student success!