Bossa responds as Chinese agent license requirement removed

China's State Council has recently cancelled the specific licensing requirements for study abroad agencies, meaning companies no longer need to apply for approval from the relevant provincial education bureau and potentially opening up the market to new entrants.

Beijing-based agency association Bossa advised that in a document entitled Decisions on the third instalment of administrative licensing matters designated to the local governments by central government, the State Council cancelled requirements in 269 areas of business, including study abroad counselling.


In a statement, Bossa President, Peng Sang, explained, "Before this announcement, prospective overseas study agencies needed to apply for approval from the relevant provincial education bureau before engaging in this area of business; each education bureau would set its own requirements in terms of areas such as minimum registered capital.


"Approval from the education bureau is now no longer required, although agencies still need to go through the formal business licensing procedure that applies to all companies in China."


Sang continued, "Although the pre-approval is cancelled, the State Council stressed the importance of strengthening corresponding regulation, supervision and management of overseas study agencies, in order to create and improve a healthy market environment for the overseas study services industry."


As such, guidance for the agency sector will be coordinated by the Ministry of Education (MoE) together with the General Administration of Industry and Commence (GAIC).


Peng said that the decision calls on MoE and GAIC to formulate relevant sample contracts between agents and student applicants, although it will not be compulsory to follow the format.


A Spokesperson at Bossa advised that the association welcomed the ruling, and saw an opportunity for increased development for the industry.


The monopoly in the agency sector will be broken, the Spokesperson said, adding that the market will be more active, leading to higher levels of service.


The Spokesperson said there was an unreasonable competitive advantage held by a relatively small number of companies previously, and said that because the regulations were introduced in 1999, the original government approval was not related to whether the agency had the appropriate service capability or supervision in today's marketplace.


"Enterprises, through more than 10 years of business, gradually established a sound management system, as consumers' demand for research and improvement forced operators to continuously improve the quality of business," the Spokesperson said.


Asked whether the association had concerns about the lack of quality control in the absence of licensing, the Spokesperson said, "In the future, enterprises do not have the government's protection, but need to win through the integrity of the market, through high-quality services in the survival of the fittest. Quality control is in the market competition, so the results will be more in line with the actual situation, and will no longer appear due to blind approval."


Bossa was founded in 2004 and has more than 150 member agencies, while the affiliated China Overseas Study Service Alliance (Cossa) was established in 2012 and gathers 40 member agencies from other provinces outside of Beijing.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor