This session is to provide information on criteria that can be used to develop screening and continuous improvement practices by either adopting tried and true methods or developing your own. What to consider if developing your own. We will provide some good modelsThe second part will briefly look at institutional criteria to evaluate institutional readiness in international recruitment and agency-based recruitmentIn Part 3 we will go over some examples of success
Standards we are familiar with that have positive impact on our everyday lives.
You are all familiar with Admissions Standards.
Adherence to Standards ensures quality control.
These regulatory frameworks exist to ensure quality and protect students, In Australia – the ESOS Act requires the enrolling institution to be accountable for actions of contracted education agents; Education officials from UK, Ireland, NZ, Australia in 2012 produced the London Statement code of ethics for education agents. Many Agent Associations have code of ethicsGo to the FELCA site to see the range of agent associations; many have their own standards or guidelines that must be met in order for an agency to be a part of the associationAIRC Standards – developed by AIRC institutional and certified agency members due in part to a lack of oversight in the US and a hesitancy in the US around using agentsPIER = Professional International Education Resources – an Australian firm that offers agent counselor trainingICEF also offers counselor training and assessment in addition to screening of agencies to attend its workshops
- US acceptance of use of commissioned based agencies is mixed Commercial Services assists US institutions in learning about and matching with educational agencies overseas. Trade missions abroad introduce agencies to participants.US State Department Education USA prohibits agencies from recruiting through their centersAIRC - established in part to address known deficiencies in the higher education marketplace through the adoption of ethical standards]
AIRC Standards first established by member and expert committee in 2008. AIRC Standards are able to be reviewed and updated when the need arises. For example when AIRC members learned in 2011 that some agencies were taking commissions on awarded financial aid for international students the AIRC Standards committee revisited the standards and new standards were adapted to disallow this practice. Other Standards were also revised at this time – such as standards on sub-agents and standards on authenticity of credentials.- Institutions can use the AIRC Standards as a guide to screening agencies. You can pair the standards with your own developed institutional checklists along with advise and criteria developed by institutional legal counsel. See handout - Standards
Whether you choose to engage with an AIRC Certified agency or not, your institution may want to use the standards or aspects of the standards in your selection of educational agents. For example in Standard area 1 you may only want to consider agencies that have U.S. educated counselors; or you may only want to use agencies of a certain size or that place below or above a number of students annually
Standard area two covers the information provided to students in the counseling process. These standards would be good to use in interviewing agencies and their counselors on all aspects of the counseling process.
You may want to use criteria from Standard 3 in agency selection, also.
When considering how a potential agency partner would communicate with your office and submit authentic documents, these standards can serve as a guide.
It would be important to know how an agency handles complaints and examples of any adjustments it has made in response to valid complaints.Copies of the Standards are available as a handout.
A little bit more about the AIRC process of certification for agencies. It is patterned after the regional accreditation model for US institutions. It entails a self-study in which the agency reports and documents how it is meeting AIRC Standards. It includes a public comment period and welcomes any comments related to the standards. An on-site review visit is made by a trained AIRC reviewer. A Board of Certification made up of AIRC member institutional representatives and other professionals in related fields considers agency applicants.
As an institution seeks to move into, grow or improve its international recruitment using agents, the AIRC best practice guidelines can serve as advice for best practice. AIRC Guidelines for Best Practice for institutions in working with agents (see handout). In 2013-14 AIRC members will review and expand them. More about institutional checklists and readiness will be presented in Part 2 of this session.
Here are a few examples of institutions that make transparent their use of agents and follow best practice in contracting with agencies. The State University of NY system requires that all contracted agents have AIRC certification. The State of New York has implemented a thorough RFP process that serves as an additional screening tool for agencies that wish to contract with SUNY institutions.
The University of Cincinnati also has information on its website about its use of agents. It lists its agent partners, describes how to apply to be a contracted agent and describes its commission structure.
Another example is Wichita State Univ.
In 2013 Green River CC ( a founding member of AIRC) won the Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization, the most prestigious accolade for colleges and universities working in the field of international education. This award acknowledged the college’s 25 year record of successful recruitment of students to top 100 universities, as well as its complementary program of staff and student global experience programs, including service learning and teaching in foreign countries.
In order to assess if your institution is ready to recruit, recruit using agents or expand its recruiting, one recommendation is to consider best practice, readiness checklists and criteria developed by your institution. The following slides provide the range of criteria to consider. Whole day-long workshops are conducted to go over this material. With our limited time we will provide these lists. Feel free to ask questions on any specific areas.
For starting or increased international recruitment
Conduct an institutional self-check
How will new plans compliment existing strategy and operations?
Many of these questions can be answered by participating in AIRC workshops and other workshops on the theme offered by NAFSA and other organizations
AIRC Certified agencies must report on continuous improvement annually. Reports may be made on continuous improvement on Standard areas – for example, improved web platforms for secure record keeping or expanded and improved survey techniques for students.
The contract with agency is another tool to ensure quality. As an AIRC member benefit, sample contracts are made available as well as training presentations on implementing an agency based recruitment plan.
Small school with graduate management programs using agent-based recruitment; presenters can use this slide but it is hoped that they can add their own experiences
Maintaining Standards in Agency-Based International Recruitment - Region XI
Maintaining Standards in Agency-Based
NAFSA Region XI
October 23, 2013
Jennifer Wright, Associate Director of Operations and Certification
American International Recruitment Council
Carol L. Mandzik, Director of International Recruitment &
Manager of MBA Programs & Internships
The University of Maine
• To provide information on frameworks that can be used in
assessing best practice in agencies with which you may
• To provide information on criteria that can be used by U.S.
institutions to access readiness in agency-based recruitment
or to improve current operations
• Part 1: About standards and best practices
• Part 2: Institutional Criteria in Consideration of International
• Part 3: Continuous Improvement and Success When
Standards are Applied
• A system for verifying and maintaining a desired level of
quality in a product or process, as by planning, continued
inspection, and corrective action as required.
• The goals of a quality control system:
• Significantly reduce or eliminate errors
• Reduce costs
• Achieve operating efficiencies and productivity
• Maintain integrity of systems, processes, and implementations
• Create and maintain an assurance of quality for all stakeholders
• Keep moving the organization forward
Regulatory Frameworks for Agency-Based
• Government regulation, ESOS Act, Chinese MOE Licenses
• Self regulation, ex: London Statement, Agency Associations,
Federation of Education and Language Consultant Association (FELCA)
• Industry Standards, ex: AIRC Certification Standards
• ISO 9000: International Organization of Standardization (used in
corporate and educational environments)
• Legal and/or State Compliances: applied by Universities in developing
contractsCorporate Guidelines: ICEF - screening of agencies and
counselor assessments, PIER counselor training
U.S. Context For Agency-Based Recruitment
No federal oversight;
U.S. Commercial Services
U.S. State Department – Education USA
• SPGP amended in September 2013 to allow the use of commissioned
• U.S. colleges and universities wishing to use commissioned agents to
recruit international students will now be permitted to do so,
provided they follow new guidelines to ensure accountability,
integrity, and transparency
AIRC Standards Development
• What are the AIRC Standards and how to make use of
them within your own institutional selection
• Like any quality standard, AIRC evolved out of a threepronged approach:
• Standard Development Committees
• AIRC Organizational Structure
• Revisions to the Standards
• Standard 1: Organizational Effectiveness
• Mission and Purpose Planning
• Governance and Ownership
• Management, Hiring, Evaluation and Training
• Range of Business Offerings and Offices
• Sustainability, Fee and Refund Policies, Handling of
student Financial Aid
• Standard 2: Integrity of the Recruiting Process
• Training and Knowledge of the US System
• Advertising and Marketing
• Respect for Intellectual Property
• US Immigration Regulations
• Current Institutional Offerings
• Accountability for Agents and Sub Agents
• Standard 3: Student and Family Engagement
• Written Student Contract
• Confidentiality of Records
• Communication with Family and Handling of Legal
• Backed Up Promises and Guarantees
• U.S. Non-Discrimination Laws
• Record Keeping and Student Surveys
• Standard 4: Student and Institutional Engagement
• Written Contract
• Regular Contact with Partners
• Maintain Confidentiality
• Authenticity of Documents
• Client Satisfaction Surveys
• Record Keeping
• Standard 5: Complaints Process
• Mechanism for Complaints
• Responsive to Complaints
Application of Standards & AIRC Certification Process
Universal background check;
Site Review Visit
Review by Independent Certification Board
Continuous Improvement, disciplinary action, recertification
Other Quality Control Tests
• Institutional readiness
• AIRC Best Practices
• Accuracy in Marketing
• Transparent Student Recruitment Process
• Commitment to Proper Student Support Services
• Engaged and Strategic Agent Management
Examples of Institutional Developed Standards
Example – Benefits of Agency-Based
Green River Success
• Works only with reputable educational advisory agents
who understand the benefits of 2+2 academic transfer.
This benefits students, their parents, agencies and the
• Green River staff visit top agencies twice a year
• Agency officials visit the college once a year
• Ensures active agents are intimately familiar with Green
River quality systems and culture
• Works through agents to ensure parents are involved in
their students’ experience. This increases support and
accountability to make them more successful.
• The college and its agents also develop partner-school
relationships - both high schools and universities.
The University of Maine
Diversification of agencies used for recruitment
Caps on aggregate amount paid to each agent
Minimums and maximums allowed for fee payments
Limitation on contractual term
Justification for such use of agency
Not restricted to AIRC certified agency but encouraged
Agency contract with institution reflects quality standards and both
share responsibility in maintaining such standards
• Both parties agree to conduct ongoing review to ensure quality
• Standard 4.1.1:
• “There is a written legal relationship in the form of a contract
or agreement which clearly states the nature of the
partnership, scope of respective roles and
responsibilities, quality assurance measures to be
implemented and method of monitoring the contractual
obligations (such as an annual report to the institution on the
results of recruitment practices or other mutually agreed
• Thus, the imperativeness of a highly detailed institutionalagency contract cannot be understated.
• Additionally, the continuous monitoring of activities of both
institution and agency are what drive constant improvement
Example of Agency-Based Contract:
• Specifications of Work: Both parties agree to conduct business as
• Routinely provide University promotional materials such as catalogs, tuition
cost and housing information, brochures, international applications, and
relevant items to the Contractor, at no charge. (Standard 4.1.2)
• Ensure that all admission application material in paper and digital form are
accurate, current, and clearly available to the agent, its staff members, and
prospective students. (Standard 2.2)
• Notify the University promptly of any new branch offices, substantive
changes within existing offices, closing of any offices, and/or changes in
personnel. (Standard 2.7.3)
Example of Agency-Based Contract:
• Periodically consult the University/Contractor to review progress of
recruitment and marketing strategies to ensure quality. (Standard
• Conduct annually*, two weeks after the close of the spring
semester, an enrollment management meeting that includes but is
not limited to: acceptance rates, graduation rates, retention rates,
• *Incorporate what works for your institution: quarterly, semester, at
close of academic year.
• Ensures that staff members working in the capacity of pre- and postenrollment are qualified, trained, and knowledgeable of UMaine
admission standards. (Standard 1)
Example of Agency-Based Contract:
• The Contractor is committed to providing the University with applicants
who are deemed to be worthy for consideration of admission and
whose application materials are vetted by the Contractor and properly
attested to be authentic. (Standard 4.1.4)
• The UMaine MBA office agrees to providing on-site or online training of
the agency’s staff regarding the University’s admission standards, and
advise on course transfer equivalency. (Standard 1.3.2)
• Both parties are committed to knowledge sharing through regular
communication and common professional training and development
forums such as NAFSA. (Standard 1)
• (Standard 1.5.2) University shall compensate the Contractor a service
fee of $2,500 USD per student (with a maximum of 10 students
annually) directly recruited and processed through Litz USA Student
Services, Ltd. to an undergraduate or graduate degree program for the
Fall or Spring semester.
Example of Agency-Based Contract:
• Intellectual Property: Any information and/or material, finished or
unfinished, produced in performance of this Contract, and all of the
rights pertaining thereto, are the property of the University and shall
be turned over to the University immediately upon request.
• Record Keeping, Audit and Inspection of Records: The Contractor
shall maintain records and other compilations of data pertaining to
the requirements of the Contract to the extent and in such detail as
shall properly substantiate claims for payment under the Contract.
• Select an agency that has shared values and priorities
• Relationships are hard work – nurture them!
• If retention is a high priority, build this into the contract via routine
review of retention objectives while concurrently focusing on marketing
institution as having a high quality of life for students
• If personal service is a value on campus, build rapport with smaller
agencies that have lesser sized recruitment bases but focus on
relationships (student and institutional)
• Take a look at the
• Aim to build goodwill in the contractual relationship
• If absent AIRC, adopt quality standards that may already exist: ISO, Ministry
of Education, internal assessment plan, accreditation, etc. to help develop a
framework of reference
Part 2: Institutional Criteria in Consideration of
Campus Readiness Checklist
• Under an Agency-Based Recruitment Plan, develop an internal checklist
• Perceptions on campus
• Perceptions on campus and educating campus leaders and staff
• Desire to increase diversity in int’l student population?
• Desire to bring students into specific departments?
• Well-selected agencies can help meet these goals
Staffing levels and training and development needed
Identified target markets
Is campus infrastructure ready for increased international recruitment?
What types of incentives do you have for international students to attend
What type of university profile/branding will you market?
Capacity for international students within enrollment management plan
Review internal capacity to add an agency network
Review your Institution’s Programs
• Are there any seat capacity issues?
• Are there departments more enthusiastic about internationalization
• Are there any individual accreditation or tighter controls in certain
departments that add to the complexity of recruitment (i.e., AACSB)
for you and/or your agency
• Can you assess the impact of diversification on a particular student
• Market match-majors, countries, and levels
• ESL requirements for variety of degree programs
Developing an Agency-Based Recruitment Plan
Does the campus allow for agency procurement?
Cost vs. benefit analysis
Capacity of the international office to work with agencies
Any entry barriers to existing market territories; i.e., are certain parts of the
globe not conducive to robust recruitment of students for your campus?
• Are there agencies who specialize in certain degree program recruitment?
Integration of the agency plan with overall international recruitment plan
How will this impact your processes, procedures, staffing?
Who will be responsible for interfacing with agencies?
How will you handle the increased level of administrative supervision needed for
agency recruitment plan?
• How will you evaluate the agency’s performance?
• How quickly can you turn around an application?
• How do you evaluate international credentials?
• Is there a minimum level of collaboration expected from
the agency (fairs and sessions in country)?
• How is the inquiry contact information handled?
• How do I find the right international recruitment agency
for my institution?
• Where to find agencies?
• Would you require AIRC Certification or other
Part 3: Continuous Improvement and Success when
Standards are Applied
• Continuous improvement is a component of best practice
• How does an institution measure success?
Among many ways:
Collecting student feedback
Yield success of agency-recruited students
Data on % of increases in student placements, numbers and
diversity of international students
• Retention rates of international students
The Contract as a Standard Bearer
• General scope of services
• Length of agreement
• Termination or separation
• Commission terms,
• Dispute resolution process
• Payment process
• Recognition of agency status
• Marketing/publication issues
• Legalities (liabilities)
• Placement policies or
• Designated contact person
• Training and support
• Transparency (website and
Agency Based Recruitment
Tips for Choosing an Agency:
Check university referrals
Track record of students who attended your university from agency
Establish acceptance levels
• Example: 30%, 50%, 75% retention rate from agency – what is your campus’ target goal?
Tracking record of alumni of your campus who came through particular agencies
Track record of students, majors selected for
Ask for mission statement
Anticipate problems before they start – because they will occur
Are you willing to work to restore relations?
Have you identified why, for example, retention rates are poor from this agency?
Is the agency the right fit, for the right reasons, for your campus?
Does the agency recruit in the areas that you are seeking to diversify?
• Review prior applications at your campus – are they in good order by agency?
• Interview current students on campus from agency(ies). Identify strengths and challenges
faced by students
• Open up communications beyond email
• Do a site visit / invite the agent to your campus or, broaden it to your system
• Periodically check agency website (and your own) – ensure all information is correct
Testimonials of Student Recruitment Success as a Result of
Incorporating Quality Standards
• “Agency recruitment is an important part of what we do and
responsible for a significant tuition revenue stream into the
university (probably about $3 million, and with no scholarships or
• “Significantly our success (including managing our relationships with
only the best agents) has caught the attention of many on our
campus, and a "believer" of the last free years includes our VP of
• “We gauge our (significant, for our size) agent-based graduate
enrollment in the management school as 98% successful), and our
international, and domestic students, alike, prosper, and it greatly
enriches our entire campus (and regional) community.”
Q & A Time
• Thank you and best wishes for many successful
years of recruitment!