The most mportant ingredient  in business is integrity — BOLA AGUNBIADE

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Mrs. Bola Agunbiade is the Director of Avail International Consult Limited (AICL Education), an outfit that specializes in international students’ recruitment and career counselling. In this chat with Financial Vanguard, Agunbiade says integrity is very important in the international education counselling business. Excerpts:

17The Beginning:

According to Mrs Agunbiade, she started off by taking some marketing courses.

“I have done several strategic marketing courses with communication outfits here in Nigeria. I have travelled severally for trainings abroad in Dubai and the United Kingdom. I have a degree from the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos. I have been in the business of international student recruiting for 10 years. I started work as a counsellor with one of the foremost agencies in international recruitment in Nigeria -Preparation for Life (PFL)- in 2004. I was with Preparation for Life for seven years first as a student counsellor, later as the Country Representative for West London College, UK.

“I enjoyed my work and time so much in PFL that I realised that this is what I have always wanted to do; interacting with people, helping people, solving problems.”

In 2011, she resigned from PFL to follow her dream. “AICL was born by the grace of God, in 2011 and in three years, we have been able to assist hundreds of students to travel and study abroad. Our main aim is to help students make informed decisions about their education and future prospects that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives,” she said.

What we do in AICL:

“We raise awareness of higher education among students at the national level. We inspire them and provide them with required information to guide them with the entire admission process. We also utilise our international expatriate and students’ network to help aspirants in Nigeria solve their career-related and academic problems through collaborative discussion and social networking.

 

We believe Nigeria can
be uplifted only through proper utilisation of its intellectual and skilled manpower and that studying abroad not only opens opportunities to international career exposure, better education and state-of-the-art research, but also individual economic and intellectual advancement.

We assist applicants with selection of the best suited schools from the three major destinations we represent.

Our services include selecting the right course as per the student’s interest, assisting students with the complete application procedure, tracking the applications for outcomes, providing information on the costs involved in terms of living expenses and tuition fees, advising on scholarships and giving information on university and private accommodation, complete guidance on student visas, arrangement of pick-up and drop from the airport to the campus and very importantly, progress report from our partner institutions on behalf of our students.”

We have done several write-ups in education to educate the mind because we believe that education is nurturing the mind, not just for economic purposes, no, we want to nurture people’s minds.

About a year ago, I invited journalists here because I felt I needed to do something for the society and I knew there were institutions abroad that were tuition-free, some had partial scholarships but these are basically merit-based, we needed to get across to outstanding students. If you are looking at studying abroad and you have got excellent grades, we are willing to help you.

Giving back to community:

Another initiative we are currently working on is Award for best students in English Language in secondary schools. This is for students who have excelled in English language.

It is an initiative borne
out of the fact that we have noticed that a lot of students do not realise the importance of English Language as a prerequisite for getting admission abroad. If students are struggling with English language, it becomes a big problem to cope with studies abroad.

“We have a list of schools already, but this is not exhaustive as we are willing to take on more schools. Interested Proprietors and Principals or career Counsellors can contact us for participation.

Initial capital:

“We started small. Honestly, it is not about how much you have; the most important  ingredient is integrity. You may have lots of money but without honesty and integrity, it won’t work. Parents want to be sure they are getting timely and accurate information.

They need to know that they can trust you with the lives of their children, that  they can trust the information you are giving to them.”

Range of international students’ fees:

Quality education does not come cheap. For UK, USA and Canada, on the average,  tuition fees are approximately between N1.5 and N2 million per year.

Living expenses will average between N1million and N1.5 million depending on the location. For instance, if you are studying inside London, cost of living is higher than other parts of the UK.

 

Challenges:

“The only challenge we have is dishonesty on the part of either the parent or the student. Right intentions are very important to us. We need to be able to determine if students have the genuine intention to study abroad. We are able to determine intentions most of the time but there were a few times we missed the danger signals.”

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