Tuesday, 3 July 2012

US unis favour ban on agents



This first appeared in the EL Gazette of February 2012

TWO THIRDS of admissions officers in US universities and tertiary education colleges favour a ban on the use of commercial agents who recruit international students, according to a recent survey, and over 46 per cent believe that ‘agents often help their clients fabricate information on applications’.

The ‘Survey of College and University Admissions Directors’, published in Inside Higher Ed in early December, also revealed that over a fifth of admissions officers reported a ‘problem with fabricated admissions applications for international students’, while over a quarter of respondents said they ‘strongly agree’ that international students turn up with ‘inadequate requirements for entry’.

The survey’s section on international student recruitment noted, ‘At issue is the growing use of commission-paid agents both by students seeking admission and by institutions recruiting international students.’ The survey concluded that ‘many institutions admit some applicants who apply with lower grades and test scores than those typically admitted’. But this was not restricted to admission of international students – institutions taking in under qualified athletes was perceived as a more common practice.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), which represents university and further education college admissions officers, proposed a bar on such institutions using agents back in the spring of 2011, but so far this has not been implemented. At the time NACAC cited ‘complications involving misrepresentation, conflict of interest and fraud’ and an ‘incentive for recruiters to ignore the student interest’ as consequences of using agents.

A group of over 135 educational agents in the US, the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), whose stated aim is to raise the professional standards of agents who recruit for US higher education, released new proposed guidelines shortly before the survey was published. AIRC’s proposals for ‘revisions to compliance standards’ included forbidding agents from taking a cut of scholarships or financial aid awarded to their clients’, according to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

John Segota, associate executive director for professional relations at Tesol Inc, whose members include English language units at US universities, told the Gazette, ‘Tesol International Association does not have a specific position [on] the use of educational agents.’

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