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Hello Everyone,

I received a job offer from Changchun Normal University a few days ago for the position of an English teacher. However, having read all those nasty stuff that other people have been experiencing in China I can't help it but feel uneasy with what is going to go wrong if I sign the contract and eventually arrive in China. So, initially I applied for a teaching job through TEFL Panda almost a month ago. At the time apparently they didn't have any jobs available and so they came back to me again a week ago and they told me about a job in the aforementioned University. So, first they invited me on an informal interview just to make sure that my accent is fine because I am not from an English speaking country even though I've been living in the UK for a long time. So after that, they provided me with some information about the Uni, a copy of the contract, a word file with the documents they need to apply for a work permit and a pdf file for me to fill as a  medical record. 


My concern is that I can't really tell that I will be working for the University. The Uni is no mentioned anywhere in the contract. The e-mail that send me the documents is just a normal e-mail, not one from an educational institute.The lady from TEFL panda, when I told her about my concerns said that the contract was between me and a dispatch company. Okay, but who are those guys anyway and why not signing directly with the University. I mean it doesn't make much sense if TEFL panda works with a dispatch company who does the talking between me and the University. In that case, what's the role of TEFL panda?


Tomorrow, I will talk with the University (I hope they are from the uni), about some teaching stuff. And I am thinking of telling them about those things and also asked them for a formal offer as well as a document of Authorization by the Uni that proves that they Authorize Tefl panda or this dispatch company.


What do you guys think?. Has anyone had a similar experience or maybe dealt with agency or university that I mentioned? I've done some much research that I can't really tell who's right or wrong anymore. Any answer would be appreciated!

PS I am terribly sorry for the long post.

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What nasty stuff?

To generally put your mind at ease... Essentially you just need to do your research on where you intend to work - both the school and the city. For the school itself, random online reviews can be hit and miss as most people will only post if they've had a terrible experience. It's better to ask the school to give you contact information of someone who works at the school and/or someone who worked there. This would help you as you can ask where their contract is from - which company etc and what the conditions are like. You can also get info on where the school actually is. With Universities they can often be outside the city in not very good locations (from a foreign teachers point of view). For the city, take a look on travel websites or see if there is an expat website available.

What do you mean by "dispatch company"? Do you mean this TEFL panda company? An agency I presume? If you have concerns about the agency then, again, ask them to provide contact information for a teacher they have placed then contact them. If any company-school or agency-had a problem with this or makes excuses then that should set off alarm bells straight away. You can also make some judgements on the quality of their website and their emails (well written or not etc).

Also, if the company aren't really addressing your concerns then this would be a big negative for me and I'd seriously think about whether or not it's worth moving forward with them.

Some Universities might not have any experience hiring a foreign teacher which could explain this "standard" contract you've got from the agency. If you are really worried, you could potentially try and ask for the contract to have the Univerity letter head etc added to it, as well as the location of the University. However, they may not be willing to do this. Maybe the University doesn't even have the ability to hire foreigners so they are using this third party company to do so. I would look into this as there would be potential for you to get into trouble if your visa is for a different company than the one you're working in.

Finally, you mentioned your passport isn't from the UK (or a native speaking country). Regardless of how native your accent is, this will count against you in looking for a job. Many companies wouldn't even consider you - this isn't a reflection on you but just because getting a visa for a non-native would be hard or near impossible in some cases. For that reason, you might want to try your best to clear up your current situation.

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Oh, a "dispatch company" is a temp agency? Never heard that before.

Agree with Gato, unlikely you'll get a valid work permit through them.

You could try and get the University to hire you directly as you've indicated.

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The e-mail that send me the documents is just a normal e-mail, not one from an educational institute.
This is actually very normal in China. Even ministries use hotmail.com and 163.com addresses. The fact that your contact at the university, dispatch company and/or Panda company doesn't use a professional email address is not by itself reason to worry.


However, the posters above say wise things about reasons to be careful, so I don't want to take away from that. Good luck, I hope all goes well!

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Thank you for your responses. So if it is a temp agency, they will probably issue me a temporary visitor's visa which not only I would have to renew every 6 months in Hong Kong but also would be illegal to work with. I spoke with the University and they told me that I will speak with the university about the contract when I asked them for a formal job offer. However, they asked me to provide them with a valid criminal record as well as a medical record, which both of them are essential for getting a work permit. Did they ask them just to give a false impression?

What do you guys think? Last thing I want is to end up working illegally

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