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Using an agent to help you to organise your UK travel, study or work
Agent (c) Hemera Technologies Inc
  Advantages of using agents
  Finding an agent
  Questions to ask agents
  Applying directly


Using an agent can be a good way to find and organise a course in the UK, particularly if you do not feel confident about making the arrangements youself. However, you need to be careful to make sure that the agent is reliable and trustworthy.

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- You can speak to the agent using your own language; the agent may also have prepared written information in your own language
- You may find it too difficult to read and fill in forms written in English without help
- It will save you time
- The agent may be able to advise you where to go and which course to take
- The agent may have personal knowledge about the quality of schools and accommodation
- The agent may help to arrange immigration, course, accommodation, work placements, airport welcome, insurance
- The agent may be able to provide help if there are problems
- The agent may have contacts in several countries, allowing you to consider a range of alternatives

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Many agents will belong to an association in your country, which you can contact to get a list of members. Most of the larger associations will only accept agents who can show that they are properly qualified and that they offer a reasonable level of service. Some of the bigger associations for language travel agents (who help to arrange English language courses in the UK) are listed in the Links section (choose your country). Many of the national or international associations are members of FELCA (Federation of Education and Language Consulting Associations):

You may want to contact the British Council in your country to ask if they can give any advice about using agents. For example, the British Council may help to organise (or may at least be aware of) a trade fair attended both by schools and their agents (the purpose of these fairs being to attract new students).

If you have a friend who has already used an agent to follow a similar course in the UK, ask if he/she would recommend that agent. Personal recommendations like this can be very useful, but only if the person you are asking gives you an honest and independent opinion.

You may also find out about agents through the media which they use to advertise their services. For example, adverts may appear in newspapers or study abroad magazines. You may see posters in public places or receive information at home by direct mail. Adverts may also appear on TV or radio. If you find an agent in any of these ways, remember to be especially careful about checking that they are reliable - do not believe everything you read.

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How thoroughly does the agent check that you are suitable for the course?
You may not like being checked or asked lots of questions, but a good agent will do this.
A good agent will try to match you to the best course for you, even if the commission he/she receives is higher for another course.

Does the agent help to arrange any preparation courses?
If you are applying for a course or job in the UK which requires a certain level of English, you may want to find an agent who can give you advice about suitable English courses (but note that sometimes you can also get such advice directly from the provider of your main course).

Does the agent help you to prepare all the correct documents for immigration?
You need to prepare the right documents for British immigration officers in order to obtain a visa. An agent will normally guide you through this process. Never deal with an agent who offers to provide false documents.

Does the agent have close contacts with the school in the UK?
Has the agent visited the recommended school recently?
How many different schools do they send students to? How did they choose these schools?
Has the agent received any complaints about the school or the accommodation they provide?
What is the nationality mix of students at the schools?

What are the charges, and what services do you receive?
How much support does the agent offer once you are in the UK? Does it have a representative in the UK?
What happens if the agency or school goes bankrupt? How long has the agency been established? How much experience do the agents have?

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You may want to apply to a school directly without using an agent, especially if you know what sort of course you are looking for and can follow the application and immigration process by yourself. Some schools will offer discounts to direct applicants, or may allow you to negotiate the course cost. Alternatively, there are some "discount agents" who provide only a minimal service but agree to return to you some of the commission which they earn for introducing you to a school.

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