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8/20/2006

followup of andy ho's quality reporting

I was reading this article on students agents by Melissa Sim in the Sunday Times. Despite the fact that she had been told that her numbers were wrong, she still put it into print, claiming that students agents earned a hefty commission of between $2000 to $8000! And she was told that she must know what constitutes that $8000. The number is nonsensical if it is just commission for bringing a student here and help him enrolled into a school. No student would pay that kind of money just for that. The more likely figure is between $800 to $2000, depending on the complexity of the case. But $8000 is not uncommon for foreign agents in China, Korea or Vietnam to charge their clients as there are many domestic regulations and systems to get by, including paying off certain people. The impression given by Melissa Sim is that it is a 'low startup costs and about $100 million up for grabs...' What her article implies is that these are sheeps with plenty of money to be milked by the agents. But when you read her comments further, her evidence did not point to anyone paying that kind of money to their agents. Even a student who paid $2000 were unhappy about it. Where would anyone pay $8000? Other than the unscrupulous who would take the commission and run, many agents have to sweat it out and play parents to the students, especially the younger ones for 4 to 6 years when they are here, running and fetching them around to do domestic chores and worrying for their safety. It is hell of a responsibility to take a child into their care when their parents are thousands of kilometers away and have laid full trust that the agent will look after their children, responsibly. And she mentioned about the Association of Consultants for International Students(Singapore) or ACISS which was set up specifically by the agents and related industry players to self regulate and ensure professionalism and reliability of the service providers. The responsibilities are huge and the service providers knew that they have to provide a service that commensurates with the commissions they are getting, and to make sure that their care are safe and sound. It is no joke should an accident happen or the child is hurt in anyway. For $2000 and a responsibility that can stretch for several years, only the uninformed will think that it is good money. Perhaps in the eyes of this reporter, once the commission is in the pocket, it is time to disappear. I post this to show the quality of reporting and the amount of homework done by a mainstream journalist as claimed by Andy Ho. Factual and accurate reporting!

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