Pandemic, curbs push IELTS centres, visa facilitators to brink in Jalandhar and Ludhiana
Those running International English Language Testing System (IELTS) coaching centres and visa consultancy firms in Jalandhar and Ludhiana are out of business. There are around 1,500 IELTS and visa consultancy firms in Jalandhar district and 750 in Ludhiana, many of them struggling to pay the rent and salaries to the staff.
An umbrella organization of such firms — Study Abroad Association — in Ludhiana recently submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner seeking relief in rent and other measures to pull out them out of the distress. The memorandum was forwarded to the chief minister’s office.
The centres in Ludhiana train around 35,000 to 40,000 candidates for immigration every year and most of them run from rented premises that costs between ₹1 lakh to ₹2.5 lakh a month.
President of the association Mitesh Malhotra, who runs seven IELTS and visa consultancy centres in Ludhiana, said the period between April and September is the peak season, when a majority of aspirants join universities or colleges abroad.
“Even if we start IELTS classes by June or July-end with 30% of capacity, only one-fourth of the 40,000 students will be able to go abroad for the January intake and the commission that we will get from the universities will arrive by April next year,” he said.
Criticising the government for not supporting coaching and consultancy establishments at this time, Malhotra said governments hold NRI sammelans (congregations) to appreciate the contribution made by NRIs for the development of the state, they have no regard for the establishments that help in making these people NRIs.
Gagneet Singh Grewal, who runs a visa-cum-consultancy centre in Ludhiana’s Ferozepur Gandhi Market, said, “If the government fails to curb the spread of coronavirus, some countries might not allow the migration of Indians and many students who had earlier planned to study abroad might drop the idea.”
Nina Rahul Gupta, who runs an IELTS and immigration centre in Jalandhar, said “We have been providing IELTS classes online for our students. There has been uncertainty among the students due to travel restrictions and we are flooded with queries.”
Also, trainers at several IELTS centres in Jalandhar are waiting for salaries since April. One of the trainers at a private coaching centre, Richa Sharma (name changed), said she was yet to get her April’s salary. “I was told that I will not get salary till the situation normalise. I am helpless now,”she said.
Manpreet Kaur too shared similar experience, saying she was paid only ₹12,000 out of her ₹30,000 salary.