The ALTO Best Practice Guidelines seek to establish a framework for international education organisations where the business aims of both agents and educator are respected, and partners support each other to deliver “excellent student experiences”.
Guidance covers preliminary due diligence, payments and corporate social responsibility, among other points.
It has also introduced an ALTO Mediation panel which will allow members to initiate a mediation process if they feel guidelines with partners were “not met and has caused damage or inconvenience to their business”.
In early 2020, UK English language schools wrote an open letter following a “critical lack of bookings”. The schools wrote of a “longstanding” problem around “unauthorised” late payments from many agencies, and described refund demands from agents as “unsustainable”.
“Students should be protected from any payment dispute between the education provider and the agent,” these new ALTO guidelines suggest.
“ALTO would like… to recommend everyone who operates within the industry to refer to this document for guiding principles”
The guidelines are “a product of more than 12 months’ worth of consultation series with agent and school workgroups coming together from small independent to large international companies, representing the whole industry, providing relevance and credibility to this document”, the organisation said.
“ALTO would like to encourage other associations to highlight its importance to their members and recommend everyone who operates within the industry to refer to this document for guiding principles,” it added.
Members committing to the guidelines will be permitted to use the ALTO Best Practice Partner Stamp.
“The industry needs some basic guidelines and by tapping into our members vast experience ALTO was in the best position for this to make it happen,” ALTO’s association manager Reka Lenart told The PIE News.
“I believe organisations will push the limits, set their joint guidelines and have a smoother cooperation by discussing the ground rules set out in the document.”