UNIVERSITY STUDENTS RIPPED OFF .... Work and travel applicants allege malpractice
Work and travel applicants allege malpractice
Several university students who splashed out big bucks to participate in the lucrative overseas work and travel programmes say they feel cheated out of their money by agents who have failed to get them to the land of opportunities.
Students are assisted yearly by many agencies in finding employment overseas for the summer period.
But Camille Thomas*, one of nearly a dozen persons to complain to THE WEEKEND STAR, said some agencies have been ripping off students of up to $45,000 and not delivering. "They are scammers," Thomas said.
Participants in the work and travel programme are able to work in the United States during their summer holidays. Agencies usually identify jobs and lodging for students and collect a fee. However, according to Thomas, it appears that some agencies have not been living up to their end of the bargain. "When we check with the jobs overseas there is nothing on the system for some applicants. They take the registration fee and don't take care of the paper works," Thomas claimed.
Some students signed a non-refundable registration fee of J$2,500 and 25 per cent of the programme fee which has to be paid in full, is not refundable. Another disgruntled applicant said many students borrow money from agencies, relatives and close friends to pay for the programme. "When a student is left jobless for the summer and an agency decides to take 25 per cent of a student's programme fee of US$1,100 to US$1,400, how are they are expected to fulfill their loan commitments?"
The applicant argued that with the high volume of students expressing an interest in the programme, there has been a proliferation of work and travel agencies to accommodate the growth. The students feel the Government should intervene.
Two of the agencies labelled as faulty, dishonest and misleading are listed among several on the Ministry of Labour's website as authorised agents in Jamaica for work and travel.
A representative of one of the agencies said that its operations are above board. "We invite any person who felt cheated to come into our office. Anyone that has paid and not been placed, if they requested a refund, that would have been done," the representative said.
When the Ministry was contacted to shed some light on the burning issue, we were asked to send an email to the respective Management and Public Relations unit.
Having done so from May 19, only a follow-up email to say our queries have been received has been received.