The agents are still duping more students in African countries

No college or course and even forced to sleep in kitchens African students duped in BengaluruMichael, Abraham, Jerry
news Friday, April 08, 2016 - 14:36

Ghanaian national Michael Akpagli turned up for class on his first day in Bengaluru’s Bangalore International College in July 2015, he found that his college was shiny, but only on the outside. The underlying rot, would become clearer during the next six months, but had started over a year before he got to India.

“When we came to the college it was literally one floor of an unfinished apartment rented out in the middle of Marathahalli. There was painting work going on. Forget a library and labs, there was not even basic infrastructure that the fancy brochures had promised,” said Michael. The college was located in the Marathahalli area of the city and had over 40 students from African countries. With this, began their ordeal, with a ghost college which may be part of on organized racket.

The management changed the name of the college from Bangalore International College to Loyola Business School

The hostel accommodation he and other students had been promised turned out to be a two-bedroom house where over 20 students, including girls, were “dumped”.

“We slept in kitchens. And for this treatment, despite having paid the full amount we were paying an extra Rs 3,000 every month to the landlord, until he forced us all out in December 2015,” he said.

The classes he attended at the institute between August and December 2015, he says, spanned only three hours a day from9.30 am to 12.30 pm, were of abysmal quality as they were taken by sub-standard teachers.

What is horrifying for Michael and other students from African countries, is the possibility that the college that these students have enrolled in may not even really exist.

Local agents in Ghana first approached Michael in Ghana and told him about an institute called Bangalore Management Academy, which they claimed was affiliated to Bangalore University.  

“For the first installment of the fee I paid (USD 450), I got a receipt from BMA.”

 

However, In April 2015, three months before the course was to begin, the picture began to change. “I got a call from a person named Sharma E Pathra saying that the college’s name was changed to Bangalore International College,” said Michael.

Although Michael had doubts, Sharma E Pathra assured him that the name change would not affect student admissions or course contents. Despite misgivings, he decided to go ahead with the course, and paid a further USD 750 as the complete fee which they said was inclusive of hostel accommodation.

However, it seems the name change was not innocuous as Michael and his fellow students were told. According to Emmanuel Appiach of the Ghana Students’ Association in India and an alumnus of the Business Management Academy (BMA), the BMA institute closed down in April 2015.

“To prevent the next batch students from withdrawing their admission, they changed the name to Bangalore International College, which is a ghost college,” he alleged.

Emmanuel added that the man who claimed to be the chairman of this ghost college, Mohd. Asad Mallick, had been an agent at BMA.

In December 2015, the institute underwent another name change, and was renamed as Loyola Business School. This second renaming allegedly took place in response to rising pressure from students when they couldn’t get bonafide letters from the institute, which must be submitted at the Foreign Regional Registration Office within 15 days of arrival in India, for extension of visas. Failure to submit bonafide letters result in students being branded as over-stayers.

According to instructions given to the FRRO, officials must make regular field visits to colleges where foreign students have been enrolled, so that fraudulent colleges can be nipped in the bud. But it is unclear if any such inspection of this institute have taken place.

Curiously Loyola Business School could be a now-defunct institution that still exists on the records of Bangalore University.

“Loyola Business School was a college in Sanjayanagar area, affiliated to Bangalore University. It was closed down in 2014, but the name still existed in the university records,” said Bosco Kaweesi, legal advisor to African students in Bengaluru, who has been asked to look into the case by the African countries’ consulates.

“By using this name the management tried to make the college a legitimate institute. But when the students went to the FRRO, it refused to recognise this institute,” added Bosco Kaweesi.

In December 2015, the African students were asked to vacate the hostel. When approached “chairman” Mallick over this and other issues such as bonafide letters, were allegedly threatened saying that they could not take any action against him.

Stuck in the middle of this quagmire, the students are facing possible action from the police and feel cheated. “Just this morning a friend who had come to India two years ago, was detained by the police for no fault of his. The college had not issued him a bonafide letter at the time of joining,” said another student Dioko.

Dioko has his own horror story with the institute to tell. Dioko had apparently applied for an MBA programme at the institute, but on arrival in Bangalore found that no such programme existed. Instead he was allegedly forced to register for a BCA.  

And when Dioko told the college authorities that he wanted to transfer to a different college, he was told that he would have to pay the full fee for the course before being allowed to transfer.

“In fact when I told them I want to change the college, they kept pressing me to pay the fee for three years and then they would check whether I can change a college,” he said.

In March 2016, when exasperated students built up further pressure on the institute’s management, asking for reimbursement of their deposit and compensation, the “chairman” issued them cheques which bounced, says Michael. He had visited the bank five times to deposit the cheque, and received a notice from the bank saying he would be arrested if he came again.

Finally, in April this year, Dioko and some other students filed a complaint of cheating against Mallick at HAL police station. The complaint was allegedly repeatedly dodged by officials until a journalist helped them register a case on April 6.

“Students from Africa really look up to India as a place for excellent education which is why there are many applicants. The only aim is to finish whatever course students have come here for so that they can help the family repay the loans they have taken for the sake of their children’s education,” says Dioko.

Michael cautions, “Even as we talk, there are agents in my country trying to trap more such aspiring students. We just got information that there are 10 more people coming to Bengaluru to join this ‘fraud college’. This must stop.”

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!

You can also support us with a one-time payment.

Rs 200Rs 500Rs 1500Custom