Desperate students duped by consultants in Saudi Arabia




Educational consultancy offices have been growing phenomenally in the country in recent years. More and more offices are being opened to serve thousands of students who seek to continue their education abroad. Some simply seek accredited summer language courses outside the Kingdom.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, there are 150 educational consultancy offices in the Kingdom. But according to many consultants who work in this field, there are twice as many that are neither accredited nor even legally operating as businesses.

One main service that students seek from educational consultancy offices is to get into one of the world’s top universities, but many students do not understand English and require assistance from specialized offices to help them through the application process.

For this reason several websites have come up to mediate between universities and students. “People are making good business out of admission and registration services, especially in this particular season of the year in which thousands of scholarships are expected to be announced,” said Mohammed Al-Saleh, general secretary of higher education.

He said some of them did not offer good service with qualified personnel. He pointed out that these privately run offices were the responsibility of the Ministry of Commerce.

“The Ministry of Education has allocated a special department working under its umbrella for admissions and registration,” he said. “We can’t do anything more than warn students.”

Abdulilah ibn Saed from King Saud University said that unauthorized educational consultancy offices would keep growing because of a lack of regulation or supervision. “Many unauthorized offices have the freedom to advertise and falsely claim affiliation with universities,” he said.

Khalid O, a 27-year-old student, said he simply did not have time to follow his application process and preferred to pass the responsibility to a specialized office. Khalid said he paid $ 1,000 and they told him that if he got admission he should pay another $ 700.

Samer Suliman, admissions supervisor, says that employers should have full knowledge of the world’s education systems to be able to guide students to the right path. The risks to people getting manipulated at such unauthorized offices are not limited when applying to universities.

Manal Alzamil said she was looking to complete her MA in the United States. “I thought I was rejected because I was not qualified, but I found out that the university had tried to contact me for an interview but the office didn’t bother to get in touch with me,” she said, adding that because of this she missed her deadline for the year.

“We students are in real need of a list of official education consultancy offices,” she said.



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