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Study abroad consultancy business sees massive boom

Md Solamain Salman
22 Sep 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 22 Sep 2022 01:18:12
Study abroad consultancy business sees massive boom

In recent times, the student consultancy firms in Bangladesh have seen massive business, owing to the increase of students going abroad to pursue higher studies after the Covid-19 pandemic situation improved.

The sector’s business had taken a nosedive into uncertainty during the peak pandemic time over the last two years (2020-2021) but it has made a strong rebound from the beginning of this year.

Sector insiders said business was down by almost 90-95 per cent between 2020 and 2021 as students hardly went to the consultancy firms with most countries suspending visas amid Covid lockdowns and travel bans.

However, after the situation improved early this year, the firms started seeing more business as countries opened their doors for Bangladeshi students.

Foreign Admission and Career Development Consultants Association of Bangladesh (FACD-CAB) President Kazi Faridul Haque Happy told The Business Post that they currently have no specific data but according to UNESCO, around 80,000 students on average go abroad for higher studies every year from Bangladesh.

“But we assume the actual number is twice as much,” he said. “Because the number of such students has doubled in the last five years because there has been an increase of scopes at foreign universities.”

One of the reasons behind the surge, he added, is that foreign universities are now seeking more international students because of a criterion that demands their admission to help get the institutions a better spot in different global university rankings.

According to FACD-CAB, the consultancy firms provide students with the best and latest information about admission, including credit transfers, at colleges, universities and institutions in different countries.

Sector insiders also said that earlier, a very low number of Bangladeshi students used to get the opportunities to go to a limited number of countries for higher studies but now there are lots of scopes for them in a higher number of countries around the world.

For example, a total of 5,928 students got registered and 7,000 applications were submitted at BSB Global Network, one of the country’s leading education consultancy firms, in 2019-2020 seeking admission to different foreign universities.

However, the number of registrations was 13,240 while 25,000 applications were submitted at this firm in 2021-2022 (till September 16). It shows that registrations and applications increased by almost 123 per cent and 258 per cent, respectively, within just two years.

Market research must

During visits to several student consultancy firms in Dhaka city, this correspondent found that students are crowding the offices and the officials of the firms are passing a busy time handling a large number of applications of the admission seekers.

Talking to The Business Post, BSB Global Network’s Manager Mahmuda Aktar said the student consultancy businesses are now doing well but there is a need for market analysis to become successful in the sector.

“Those who are in doing business without conducting market research, I would say that it will take more time for their organizations to run successfully,” she said.

She said the target people should be reached after market segmentation. “Consultancy firms will do well if we can put in place a constructive structure showing the kinds of academics and other benefits, like part-time jobs, PR opportunities and business investments, are available.”

Currently, around 400 firms are registered with the FACD-CAB in Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet.

Some of the good and reputed consultancy firms include BSB Global Network, Global Immigration Consultants, IDP Education Bangladesh, AH&Z Associates, HBD Services Bangladesh, International Education Counselling Centre, Sustainable Migration Solutions, PFEC Global, Eduko Pathways, Sunrise Education Consultants, Career Paths, and SA Associates.

Well Bangladesh Education Chief Executive Officer AB Rayhan Md Monir told The Business Post, “The number of students going abroad has significantly risen as many countries have relaxed the visa process for foreign students.”

The preferences

Generally, Bangladeshi students prefer to go to the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, Korea, Europe, Malaysia, China and India for higher studies.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, at least 44,338 Bangladeshi students went abroad in 2021. The number was 24,112 in 2015.

In 2021, the highest number of Bangladeshi students — 8,122 — went to the US, making it the most favourite destination. Some 6,904 students went to Malaysia and 6,191 to Australia.

Also, in 2021, 3,735 students went to Canada, 2,920 to Germany, 2,645 to the UK, 2,436 to Japan, 2,258 to India, 1,121 to Korea, and 1,062 to Saudi Arabia.

The preference to study at good universities in some Asian countries, including Malaysia, Japan and China, has also been growing among Bangladeshi youths in recent years.