Eliane Uwase is 20 years old and a 2019 high school graduate. Ive always wanted to have a more prestigious education outside of Rwanda, she said. One day, while casually scrolling through her phone, she discovered an opportunity to study at an Italian institution on the internet. This university would offer her a full scholarship, covering all of her fees, including her visa and flights. The application expenses of USD2, 000, on the other hand, were a turning point for her. While she struggled to raise the funds, three of her friends paid. We were in contact with an Indian man. He was the one that led us through the process and explained some of the details. Hed also be the one to whom wed transfer money. After my friends paid, he began putting pressure on me to pay as well. She continued, But it was taking time. As a result, when my friends pressed him to start the application, he abruptly vanished. We couldnt seem to find him, and strangely, none of us could recall his complete name, which was probably fraudulent anyhow. Unfortunately for Uwases friends, they only discovered that this was most likely a phantom university after it was too late. This is a common occurrence among students seeking for universities in other countries. While there are many good reasons to study abroad, such as enhanced work opportunities, a better understanding of the world, a broader educational experience, and so on, one should pay attention to a few aspects. With the growing popularity of online applications, there is a greater chance of being scammed, extorted large sums of money, or, in the worst-case scenario, deceived into human trafficking. For others, they struggle to get academic equivalents when they return to their home countries. For instance, recently, the Higher Education Council (HEC) revoked academic equivalences for graduates from United States’ Atlantic International University. HEC had said that following the fact that AIU was not accredited by relevant accrediting agencies in the US, it has consequently canceled all the academic equivalencies it had issued to graduates from the university. It is hence important to be aware of institutions like HEC and reach out to them before one decides to engage with certain universities abroad. You could also use the tips below, from International Students Support Center in Rwanda, on how to spot a scholarship or university scam. Payment in advance/application fee You should not have to send money to an organization to earn a scholarship. After the money is pocketed by these organizations, you will probably never hear from them again. Guaranteed scholarships Never put your trust in a company that claims to be able to get you a scholarship. These companies will charge a guarantee fee that they will never refund, even if they dont get you a scholarship. Legitimate agencies will not guarantee that you will receive a scholarship; instead, they will have a set of criteria for students and their performance. If a person fits these qualifications, he or she has a good chance of receiving a scholarship, but it is never solely the companys or the persons deed. Loan fees Institutions that require a loan fee before disbursing funds should be avoided. Normally, they should add costs to the sum of your loan, which you return over time, rather than charging you a fee up front. Names of companies and scholarships Be wary of any scholarship service or company that uses phrases like official, national, government, or other names that sound overdone. Theyre most likely attempting to appear official in order to hide the swindle. Or else consult institutions in charge like HEC. Get references Do some checks on the company or organisation that is offering the scholarship. Check if there are existing Alumni or real existing information about them. Ask yourself if it’s too good to be true At last, trust your guts! Once you see some of these red flags on the university you are checking out, move on!