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Mongolian University of Film
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Joined: 27 Feb 2010
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You, and the other American ESL teachers, have the unique opportunity to help shape the future for these students, and the future of the program."

Translation: we don't have an ESL program in place, you're going to be doing it.

"It is, especially given that the salary is post-tax net, a good one."

But still way too low for the amount of work you're expected to do.

"The students are also among the finest in the country,"

I very much doubt this is true, unless he has some special definition of "finest".

"the class rooms are consistent with schools I attended (I don't want to say how long ago Smile ). KUDS is located in a historic building; it was originally built to house the government offices."

The decrepit exterior of the building should be warning enough.

"Mongolian visa restrictions have eased considerably in recent years."

This is an outright lie. The exact opposite has been happening.

"The visa will be completed prior to your departure, of course, and the visa itself issued at the airport in Ulaanbaatar (this is not an unusual situation, that is their protocol)."

Definitely not true. Only tourist visas are issued at the airport. A work visa must be arranged for you before you arrive in the country, and you need to get it put into your passport before you enter the country. Alternatively, they will arrange it for you before you come, and then you will have to leave the country (hop across the border to Erlian, for example) to get the necessary paperwork done.

From the sound of it, they plan to keep you on a tourist visa, then delay things so that they can evade the expensive monthly work visa taxes until the end of your contract or until you get deported for working on a tourist visa.

"You are the first in what will be a long list of distinguished teachers. You will set the bar for those to follow."

He's resorting to flattery now?

The following are also warning signs:
"To conduct 5 extra classes a day during the vacation "

5 extra classes a day is madness. So, no holidays for you.

"To carry out the following duties:
- To conduct 20 classes of high-level
- To conduct 5 extra - curricular activities per term
- To render assistance to the administration and teachers in translating and drawing up necessary school documents.
- To assist the administration in the control of student's knowledge
- To participate in the students' preparation for the _______ Olympiads (district, city, state)
- To participate in the school activities for the teachers of _____ (meetings, the decade, demonstration classes, reports, concerts) "

Just the 5 extra-curricular activities per term alone will eat up every single one of your weekends and most of your evenings, not to mention the never-ending competitions and concerts. All overtime work that, by Mongolian labor law, must be compensated with higher pay, but which the school is deviously working into "duties".

I definitely would not take this job without better assurance of a visa before arrival, and a much higher salary for all that extra work and deductions that the school is certain to find ways of making.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gerberbaby wrote:
If I take the job I would have to leave in a week, so I'd like people's opinions soon if possible. Please give me your thoughts.
The contract doesn't sound as good as the initial conditions discussed, what with the deductions for NOT doing extra work, and the retroactive charging of rent.

Sounds like an awful contract. Classroom/teaching hours should be specified (and how many minutes a classroom hour is, also needs to be specified). Overtime work is supposed to be compensated extra (50% or double, I don't recall exactly) according to Mongolian law.

It's unlikely that the school will provide you an apartment worth US$500 rental/month; if it's a place near the school, a nice apartment can be had for about US$350 -- prices have been falling for at least a year now. Note that the school's provision of an apartment does not cover utilities; heating will be a big chunk of that in winter.

No reputable company would make the employee pay for the work visa.

As for health expenses, a sizable chunk of your pay will go to social insurance which entitles you to free or subsidized treatment at local hospitals (most foreigners avoid them as standards are low, but still).

The deductions are abnormal and ridiculous. For example, there is sure to be a day or two when you will not be able to start class exactly on time (horrendous traffic, admin changes lesson time/location abruptly without informing you, students held up in previous lesson etc.); to be penalized for that is outrageous.

My advice: Don't take the job. The demands are unreasonable, and some even contradict Mongolian law.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Things just keep getting interesting.

I posted the contract terms on Facebook too, and my friends who are more experienced teachers, or live in Mongolia, all offered pretty much the same criticism as on here.

I asked the rep to put me in contact with some teachers at the university or the high school. He declined, because he said they hadn’t employed foreign teachers before - the other two hires and I would be the first. I was sure this was wrong. Heck, there are foreigners teaching in the promo video on the Russian Joint School’s website! Then I remembered I’d met a woman once who worked at the Russian School and could ask her. She confirmed there were deductions, and the school installed cameras to enforce behavior. I was actually lucky that the deductions were provided in my contract in English - when she started there, they only provided the school rules in Russian, which she didn’t speak. Obviously micromanagers, like Nomad Soul said.

I emailed the rep saying that the conditions were unacceptable (for x, y, and z reasons) and that I was backed in this opinion by many other teachers. He said he’d talk to the school and get back to me and suggested that a talk with the consul might reassure me about the school’s legitimacy.

The next day, I got a call from an American official at the Mongolian consulate in the U.S., asking if he could allay my concerns. Since he works at the consulate, not the schools, I asked how he could know much about the schools’ workings. He said he’s known the principals for many years and can vouch for their character. This actually did the opposite of reassure me: I do not want my bosses to be friends with a consulate official.

He asked what my concerns were so he could relay them to his friends and also offered “explanations” for them:
    Poorly-defined hours and duties: “This is a new enterprise” and they didn’t want to “fit it into a square box”
    Pay being potentially much less than what is stated: They hire “enthusiastic” teachers and aren’t just in it for the money
    Litany of penalties give the impression the school does not trust teachers: Said he wasn’t aware of the deductions. Also, everyone absolutely trusts everyone else.
    Retroactive rent penalty: Also said he wasn’t aware of it
    A teacher at the school said there were cameras in the classroom: “Well, cameras in classrooms aren’t uncommon nowadays.” And then he wanted to know how well I knew her, said that since I didn’t know her that well I should take her statements with a grain of salt, and she probably was just a very unhappy person and I can’t make a judgment based on one person’s opinion, against all the other teachers who love working there

I looked him up and he IS an official, but the consul website also has a section on visa requirements, so I checked them against what the school was telling me. I had completely forgotten that all my previous visas required 2 3x4cm photos, which are listed as a requirement. The school had never asked for them, so they couldn’t possibly be processing a work visa. I was probably getting a tourist visa like thebear2 said.

I revised their contract with provisions I wanted (no deductions, no retroactive rent charge, clearly defined hours and duties) and emailed that to the rep too.

Meanwhile, my friends in Mongolia also referred me to a couple of other teachers - FOREIGN teachers - at the school, contradicting the school’s assertion that I would be the “first.” I had a lengthy chat with one of them. He seemed to have done better than the other teachers, but was still looking to go somewhere else soon, and confirmed the previous woman’s statements and added more. The school had had many foreigners over a period of 15 years. There was a camera in the restroom as well as the classroom. Many teachers had their salary cut in half for infractions. Few teachers renewed their contracts and some left despite the retroactive rent penalty. The apartment was only about $250 a month, so it was actually double rent. Obviously the school had to deny the existence of other foreign teachers, because I can’t imagine any of them recommending it.

Today the rep emailed me that he was passing on my version of the contract for review. Since they’d already lied to me though, I wouldn’t trust them even if they do approve all the contract changes.

In the meantime, I got in contact with someone else who was going through the hiring process too, and I told her what I'd found out.

Before I got to email the school and tell them I was backing out though, the rep emailed me and said my contract changes were rejected and they were withdrawing my job offer. Strangely though, according to the other applicant, after they rejected me, they offered her a different contract that included some of the changes I asked for! She still didn't think she'd take the job though, because she'd already heard enough bad things about them.

Since then, I've also heard from yet another former teacher, who also gave the school a very negative assessment.

Thank you all, you may have saved me from a job in hell. I’m also lucky to have friends in Mongolia who also helped. Two of them offered to refer me to other schools, so I still might get over there somehow. In any case, I would warn applicants to beware of KUDS or the Russian Joint School.

Last edited by gerberbaby on Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2015 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, thanks for the follow up! Love that Dave's ESL Cafe is full of these useful nuggets.

Judging from feedback of people who've actually worked there, the 3 main schools to avoid in Mongolia (if Mongolia had a blacklist) are: Santis, Raffles and KUDS/Russian Joint School.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to see such a Mongolian blacklist. I was already aware of Santis's reputation (I have a Mongolian friend who works there), but the Film School / Russian School was a new discovery for me.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess you dodged a bullet. I'm now hearing of someone who took that job at the Russian joint school in Sep 2015, and has not enjoyed his time there. More news when it comes (he can't spill the beans until the end of his contract later this year).
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent blow by blow account gerberbaby and well done you for doing all your homework. I hope you got a decent job elsewhere. Your post is exactly what this forum is for! Kudos to you mate.
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