Covid-19 has made quite an impact for students interested in studying abroad. Internet is now the mainstay of everything from admissions to classes. A leading educational consulting firm in Bangladesh is supporting students in this transition. Tina Salem Manzoor, the founding partner of MACES, was sharing her story of creating a service that turns the dreams of studying abroad into reality for many.
MACES works as guidance and counselling providing comprehensive service to students seeking to study abroad. The process begins with identifying the right path by understanding the students' future goals. Tina and her dedicated team helps in choosing the right course and university based on students' academic qualification, aspirations and affordability among other things. The application, following up and obtaining offers, applying for their study visas, booking accommodations and providing pre-departure guidelines to set them off to a good start in their chosen destination of studying abroad-- students are assisted in every aspect.
From her own experience of applying for higher studies abroad, Tina realised the lack of resources available for students during their time. She wanted to fill that gap and come up with a comprehensive solution for students seeking to study abroad from Bangladesh. Since then, she began working on it. She began operations in 2007 representing only one university. Within six months, her work got attention at home and abroad. She was approached by top ranked universities for representing them in Bangladesh. The British High Commission in Dhaka invited them to become their approved partner under the then active BASAS scheme.
Working with foreign universities involves providing knowledge on local education qualifications and setting up partnerships with local institutions. MACES has been successful in providing intel to many renowned foreign universities in changing their entry requirements, so that they accept bachelor's degrees from universities for direct entry or credit transfer on many graduate programmes. MACES currently represents more than two hundred universities from these six countries-- UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and Malaysia.
"As an entrepreneur, I never looked at myself any differently from my male counterparts. I think what played a major role in our success was the kind of service provided and the honest approach. Students and their parents could trust the advice I gave and appreciated the fact that there were no fees or hidden charges associated with the service. I am a strong believer in studying abroad for our students as it gives them a great exposure to professional learning environments, global cultures and most importantly it teaches them independence," shared Tina.
She also talked about the perception people had about this sector and service. Education consultants are viewed as unwanted dishonest players out there to deceit people. Her vision was to set up a respectable service leader in the industry that others could look up to and consumers could trust. MACES was able to change the perception of education consultants and is now highly regarded by their peers, students and their families. Unfortunately, dishonest and unprofessional service providers still exist and she urges students to do proper research and not to have blind faith in any service provider.
To the young generations interested in this field, Tina conveys, "This is a very gratifying field of work. You can help someone in the process of changing their lives. Therefore, one needs to take up this work with that great responsibility in mind. When dealing with a client, they need to understand that it is a service they are performing and any misstep or dishonest practice can ruin a student and his/her family's future."
Tina plans to expand her services to reach more people, to create more access for Bangladeshi students abroad. For that, the industry needs attention from regulatory bodies in providing guidelines. Without guidelines and proper monitoring by relevant bodies, the risk of dishonest practices remains very high. Students and parents face a great deal of harassment from unscrupulous service providers that needs to be put an end to.