Why International Education is no longer such a Distant Dream for Ugandan Students

For a long time, studying abroad was always seen as a something exclusive to only the incredibly rich Ugandans – along with the few very fortunate ones who would get scholarships in later stages of their academic journey, usually after the first degree.

The trend is changing, however, with the growth in the number of international schools now operational in Uganda, and the relatively higher exposure of Ugandan parents. The demand for international education is growing fairly rapidly. But this has its challenges.

“With more and more students going online to search for academic opportunities abroad, a similar number of crooks have popped up – all over the world – in some cases claiming to own non-existent universities, or even advertising fake scholarship opportunities that are intended to con students of their money,” explained Mrs. Hairah Kibuuka, who runs Sharz Consults, a leading Education placement consultancy based in Kampala, Uganda.

Education placement agencies are set up to establish a solid relationship between students and educators and have been found to help avoid scammers.

According to a 2017 research study by the University of British Colombia, many education placement consultants are former international students themselves and their own experience “not only informs the advice they provide to students but also affects their relationships with students.”

“Some agents offered a wide range of services that go well beyond those associated with education such as airport pick-up and drop-off services, accommodation arrangement and even Internet access,” reads the research report.

Indeed Kibuuka confirmed to us that in addition to helping students with university selection and help with the academic application and admission guidance, Sharz Borderless Study Consults provides social, learning and personal support at no additional cost.

“Under such circumstances, education consultants are establishing social capital with students rather than making a profit, which indicates there is a significant overlap between the profit-oriented aspect of education agents and the broader contribution they make to student experiences,” the research concludes.

Kibuuka was speaking to Chimp Reports after a three-day international conference for Education Agents and Educators, in Dubai, UAE, where the Sharz team held back to back meetings with different universities, colleges and service providers in the education industry from various countries including UK, US, Canada, Middle East, Africa among others.

“It is important to attend these workshops because we get to establish new connections in order to have a wide array of options for our students to choose from. We also use such workshops to do due diligence about the educators we partner with and gives us the ability to meet all our students’ expectations regardless of their budget and destination country’s specific student requirements,” explained Mrs. Kibuuka.

She revealed that in the last year alone, Sharz has built up their array of partnerships with education institutions to enable them send students anywhere in the world, even though, she says, Ugandan students have certain preferences.

“Students have different study preferences, but the most popular destinations are Canada, USA, Malaysia, Turkey and now Cyprus. Lately Dubai is also becoming a very popular study destination for Ugandans because of its geographical location,” she concluded.

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