Increasing numbers of Polish students are applying to study abroad, particularly at undergraduate level and particularly in the UK. There are several companies and individuals providing different types of consultancy and mentoring services to support these hopeful students through their preparations and the application process and they operate on very different models. Where fees are charged, there is very limited public information on pricing.
The Oxford & Cambridge Alumni Society of Poland decided to prepare a short overview of the market which, for the sake of this report, we have referred to as the “Educational Consultancy” market, irrespective of which model is used by particular organisations.
The report aims to help students and parents understand who is operating on the market, how the market works in Poland, the different types of support and services that are available and howmuch parents should typically be budgeting for the costs. The report is being published on our website and circulated to interested parties.
Scope & Disclaimer
We prepared a list of basic questions covering the activities of the organisations and asked them to complete it during a telephone interview, or by completing the questionnaire by email. To compile the list of organisations to approach we conducted an internet search and spoke to agencies and consultancies we knew of. The list is almost certainly not exhaustive – the market is growing very fast and many agencies work on referrals, without having their own internet sites. We only spoke to agencies about their support for students applying to university in the UK. Some participatingorganisations also assist with applications to US and other European countries and there are other organisations that provide support for other countries. Students should research carefully which organisations support which countries/universities.
All the information contained in the report is based on what the organisations themselves told us about their operations as well as our own research and discussions with students, parents and other stakeholders. We did not verify the information and take no responsibility or liability for any erroneous information included in the report and do not guarantee the veracity of the information presented in this report.
Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, significant numbers of Polish students apply each year to study abroad, taking advantage of the right of access to higher education institutions across EU member states. Polish students have enthusiastically applied to study abroad, and courses in the UK have been particularly popular. Each year around 150 Polish students secure a place at Oxford or Cambridge and the proliferation of PolSocs at UK universities, which get together for an annual congress, is testament to the large number of Polish students studying across the UK.
Support for the application process
process for UK universities has many more stages than the Polish system with specificdocumentation, language exams
as well as entrance exams for some universities and subjects.
Accompanying the increased opportunities for Polish students to study abroad, was the need for advice and support in how to go about applying for, and successfully securing, places. In response to this demand several companies and organisations were set up to assist students not only with administrative advice (where to find information about universities, how the application process works, what financial support is available and how to secure it), but also with guidance and advice on how to prepare for interview and how to present one’s achievements properly to improve the chances of securing a place. These companies also often offer extra tuition to prepare for matura/IB as well as any additional entrance exams for specific universities or subject.
Based on our discussions with those engaged in the market (both students and suppliers) the market can loosely be divided into three models.
The Agency Model
Under this model the agency represents specific universities (sometimes only a few, sometimes many). These agencies have signed contracts with the universities they represent. The university pays a fee to the agent at the moment when a student takes up a place at a given university. The
student (or their parents) pay nothing for the support. Students should be aware that some of the UK universities will not engage agents and therefore no agent will be offering support withapplication to that university. This is more typical for the UK top-ranking universities within the Russell Group1, although some will have agents, so students should check carefully which universities are on offer.
The Educational Consultancy Model
The second model is that of the Educational Consultancy. The consultancy does not have any signed contract with particular universities but charges the student/parents a fee for the support provided. Educational consultancies can therefore in theory support applications to any university, although
there is a tendency for educational consultancies to support applications to the leading, Russell-Group universities with very high entry requirements. In addition to support with applicationprocedures and administration, many educational consultancies also provide support with university choice, advice on appropriate content of personal statements, preparing for interview and in some cases coaching on specific “matura”/IB subjects to get candidates to the appropriate level. Fees are
not openly publicised on websites and charges are often agreed on an individual basis, dependent upon the scope of support provided.
Voluntary, Non-Profit organisations
The third model is the not-for-profit voluntary organisation, where support is offered to candidates for free. This typically covers mentoring by current/former students who have gone through theprocess at the same universities to which the students are applying and can share their experiences and advice both about the university courses, entry requirements and application process. Some organisations also offer participation in voluntary activities which can enhance the candidate’s CV.
- The Russell Group is a self-selected association of twenty-four public research universities in the United Kingdom. The group is headquartered in London and was established in 1994 to represent its members’ interests, principally to government and parliament. As at 01.01.2019, the list of members includes: University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, Durham University, University of Edinburgh, University of Exeter, University of Glasgow, Imperial College London, King’s College London, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, London School of Economics & Political Science, University of Manchester, Newcastle University, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, Queen Mary, University of London, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, University College London, University of Warwick, University of York. Source: Wikipedia.
It is worth noting that the educational consultancy market is not regulated, although some years ago the British Council introduced a voluntary certification process for agents, advisors, counsellors and consultants centred around promoting and supporting quality, professionalism and integrity. Since 2006, training has been a core component of the strategy and the British Council provides a Massive open online course for international education agents, counsellors and consultants with advice on becoming a professional education agent for the UK.
The British Council maintains a database of trained agents from around the world who have completed the British Council’s training and are signed up to an ethical code of practice. The list can be found here:
This database is searchable by country. Some agencies are accredited by UCAS, the British university recruitment system, others by ICEF. www.icef.com.
The British Council organises an annual Study UK university fair in Poland at which 30-40 UK universities present their offer to potential students. The 2019 edition will take place from 20-22 Novmeber. 20th November in Gdańsk, 21st November, Warsaw, 22nd November Kraków. Details about this year’s fair will be available on the British Council website shortly. www.britishcouncil.pl
We approached 22 organisations between 6th May and 10th June 2019 of which 14 responded. They were presented with a list of questions which they answered either over the telephone or by email. A full list of the organisations approached, their websites and their participation status can be found in the Appendix to this report.
The results are split into four tables: the first two cover the model, university coverage and costs, the second two cover the services offered.
As the content of the following tables show, there are a range of offers on the market to cater for different aspirations and different budgets. Pricing is not transparent and comparison between the services of the educational consultancy (paid) companies is difficult. Students and their parents should research thoroughly the offers on the market to ensure they secure suitable support at anaffordable price. They should also ensure they obtain a written contract for any paid services, which clearly states the scope of support to be provided and the number of hours of support the student will receive.
Comparative models, university coverage and cost /1
Comparative models, university coverage and cost /2
Services Provided /1
Services Provided /2
List of organisations approached and their response
Baltic Council for International Education – www.balticcouncil.org/en/sakums/ – participated
Conversa Anna Czuba – in Google but no www – participated
Edukatio Centrum Edukacyjne – www.edukatio-edu.pl – participated
Elab – Education Laboratory – www.elab.edu.pl – participated
EPISTEME – www.studiabrytyjskie.com – participated
Global Education – www.studiawanglii.pl – participated
Nauka w Anglii – www.naukawanglii.pl – participated
Oxfordon – www.studiawanglii.pl – participated
Perfect – www.studiazagranica.info – participated
Project Access – www.projectaccess.org – participated
Smart Prospects – www.sp.edu.pl – participated
The Swan School – www.theswanschool.edu.pl – participated
Young Talent Management – www.youngtalentmanagement.pl – participated
EduAbroad – www.studazagranica.pl – no response to email questionnaire
Brytanka Doradztwo Edukacyjne – www.brytanka.com – no answer
Studybritannia – www.studybritannia.com – no response to email questionnaire
British Uni.com (part of Study First Group) – www.britishuni.com – didn’t respond
Oxford Elite Education – www.oxfordeliteeducation.com – didn’t answer telephone
Albion House Katowice – no www – didn’t respond to email questionnaire
BP Professional Education Agent – no www – no response to phone number
Academaiea/Andrzej Dethloff coaching services (not the Akademaiea High School) – no www – declined to participate