By Ejide Obinna Nnaemeka

College or university decision has been suggested by professional literature as the most important decision a young person makes in life. From, first, answering the most important question Who am I? to What do I want to do with my life?, young people are seeking to discover themselves and develop what potentials lie inside them. Colleges/universities is the stage to launch young ones towards their dreams, and as important, the university decision comes at a period when the student himself has had little or no experience in making important decisions. So guidance and counselling becomes very imperative.

Herein do educational consultants come in.

Educational consultants are not hand-holders to aspiring students, rather they are like lights to the career path which these young people have forged for their futures, or are uncertain about. Wikipedia, defines an educational consultant is “an independent consultant who helps parents/students and organizations with educational planning.” Even this definition is not all inclusive, as the importance of educational consultants extends to, not only parents, students and organizations but also, the larger society –  nation.

In recent times in Nigeria and other African states, there has been discussions about the role globalization plays in international trade and relations, and as such the demand for international education has been on a rise. This has seen a flux of recent graduates from their home countries to foreign lands in pursuit of [more] globally competitive education. However, this has also resulted in huge capital flight from the economy of some African states, as most uninformed parents and students who equate quality entirely with fees pay heavy amounts to universities and colleges abroad. For instance, in Nigeria it was reported by the Chairman on Committee on Tertiary Institution and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Senator Binta Masti, in 2016 that Nigeria incurs over $2billion annually as capital flight to education abroad. That is about $317.22million higher than Nigeria’s education budget for 2018 (education budget for Nigeria 2018 is N605.8billion = $1.68billion). There is a body of information about cost and financial aids in colleges/universities selection which most times require a full-time effort to be understood thoroughly; here, educational consultants come in and help to balance costs against quality education. They help aspiring students know what schools have fair tuition fees relative to the quality of studies, and what scholarships and grants are available for them in whatever choice study areas in the choice countries they intend to embark on. For a service fee charge, educational consultants save parents and aspiring students millions of dollars, which could be funnelled into other personal or economic investments, whilst also reducing pressure on the foreign reserves of the aspiring student’s home country.

Peter F. Drucker, an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, opined that “since we live in an age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined”. All new knowledge comes from existing knowledge; to start with, great universities and colleges, besides creating superior knowledge, hypotheses and research, must question the application of these in the current business scenario. To what level do schools shape the thinking of corporate Nigeria and Africa? How relevant are the curriculums of undergraduate and graduate schools abroad to contemporary issues arising in the Nigerian state? It is difficult for aspiring students to know, with a significant level of confidence, how well a choice school’s curriculum resonates with the external environment, but the services of an educational consultant could prove invaluable here. For example, Crystalinks Investment & Services Ltd, one of the few UK independent execution only Investment and Service Company investing in Education, organize educational trips and tours that enhance, expand and broaden students’ knowledge. By this service, they help deepen thousands of students’ educational experience by providing quality educational travel that brings the classroom to life. Students also gain a deeper understanding of history and culture than a book can ever convey, and adopt a more global perspective which is highly expedient in today’s interconnected world. The integration of values and cultures from such exposures produces graduates who are competitive enough to engage as global citizens in work-places, and relationships formed via international education could foster international trade, goodwill, and investment to the student’s home country.

Good educational consultancy enterprises understand that their success depends on the success of their clients, as client referral is one major source of new clients. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find some of their counselling services extending beyond getting quality education at fair cost to include preparing for academic excellence. As an example, again, Crystalinks Investment & Services Ltd, besides counselling students to identify the right country that can accommodate their discipline and lifestyle, right quality, stable and safe environment for study, rightly sets academic goals for aspiring students to reach the best possible academic heights, based on their academic merits and financial capacity. Their core values (Excellence, Transparency, Team Work, Innovation, Professionalism, Boundless, Speed) ensure they deliver as promised, with the cooperation of clients. Academic excellence could result in forging strategic partnerships or bilateral relations between schools and home country of outstanding graduates for research, scholarships, and grants. The intellectual capacity of such outstanding graduates could also be utilized in his/her home country, whether as a lecturer in an educational institution, or as an industry player, or in government ministry, department or agency. It is difficult for most aspiring students to see beyond the tasks of getting recommendations from professors and writing great motivation letters and securing a student visa; educational consultants, like Crystalinks Investment & Services Ltd, bring to fore the importance of students graduating tops in class.

Lastly, educational consultancy be could be a channel for expanding the dialogue about salient educational issues that face a State. By writing articles, making presentations at seminars or national conferences, educational consultants can, and do, help clarify and improve the transition from school to college, for sustainable education development.