||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2013)|
A tutoring agency is a business that acts as an intermediary between people who are looking for tutors and tutors wishing to offer their services. The term tuition agency is an alternative term, used specifically in Singapore and Malaysia.
Purpose and Function
Tutoring agencies are commercial organisations, specializing in introducing tutors to students requiring help in academic studies. Tutoring agencies exist largely due to the problems parents and students face in finding a specialist who can help them with the study of one or more specific subjects.
Some agencies contract directly with the client (usually parents) to provide service. The point of contact is between the client and the agency.
Alternatively, clients may be sent a list of names of tutors who have pre-registered with the tutoring agency and then contact the names on the list to ascertain which tutors are available and, if acceptable, make contractual arrangements with the chosen tutor. At the same time, tutors are given the name and contact details of the client and are encouraged to get their call in first.
Tutoring around the world
Tutoring agencies are common in many countries including the UK, the US, Australia, the UAE, Singapore, and Malaysia. In most countries tutoring is not regulated.
In the UK after much discussion in the media a voluntary professional association was set up in October 2013. The Tutors' Association now has almost 80 tutoring organizations as its members as well as a growing number of individual independent tutors.
In Australia there is the Australian Tutoring Association
In Singapore, tutoring agencies, also known as tuition agencies, are not regulated by the Ministry of Education.
There are both full-time and part-time tutors. Part-time tutors may be students who want to earn extra money while they are still going to school, such as undergraduates of universities.
Tutors may be self-employed. If the agency does not employ the tutors, then the agency is remunerated by the tutor, who adds a fee to the amount that the client is charged each lesson, and then passes the fees back to the agency weekly or monthly as required. In Singapore, although tutor registration is generally free of charge, tutors will have to pay a percentage of his or her first month's tuition fee, usually fifty per cent, to the tuition agency as commission for referring them to students. Tutors will subsequently be paid the full month's tuition fees by the customer (the parents), according to the pre-arranged agreement.
If tutors are employed by the agency, the agency handles all client contract and payment arrangements. The agency is then responsible for employing the tutor with all that employment entails. From the agency's point of view, there is no longer any requirement to declare the fees charged by the agency (something which can cause friction with clients who do not appreciate the high cost of recruitment, vetting etc.) but they are now responsible for employee benefits due to the tutor. In Singapore, most tutoring agencies charge tutors fifty per cent of their first month's tutoring fees as commission.
In Singapore, parents and students have positive as well as negative comments.
Tutoring centers (tuition centers) must be registered with the Singapore Ministry of Education. However, tutoring agencies (tuition agencies) are not. Instead, tutoring agencies are required to register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) under the Business Registration Act. There is a history of poor compliance and consumer complaints.
- Gerrard Lai (7 July 2011). "Tuition agencies largely unregulated". AsiaOne News. Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
The quality of private tutors is not the only complaint made against tuition agencies which, unlike tuition centres, do not have to be registered with the Ministry of Education (MOE) under the Education Act.
- "Should the tuition industry be regulated?". Singapore: EdVantage. 4 August 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
Complaints against the industry are not uncommon, the Consumers Association of Singapore said