“We’re not suggesting that agents are bad and we shouldn’t use them, but rather that if we do work with agents we need to have a clear and open approach to it that we can all be content is ethical,” Vincenzo Raimo, director of the international office told The PIE News.
The move is motivated by the university’s efforts to be more transparent in the student recruitment process. It already publishes the names of the agencies they work with along with basic quality assurance requirements they must meet.
20% of international student intake came through appointed agents last year, a figure down on the previous year
Standard fees will be paid to all agents rather than the more common practice of paying a percentage of the tuition fees. Raimo, who wrote a blog post for The PIE News earlier this year discussing the agent-institution relationship, believes that recruiting students in the humanities is more difficult because they’re less popular subjects and offer less incentive for agents due to lower tuition fees.
“The basic level of counselling a student’s needs is the same irrespective of subject area,” he said. “I think students will come to us because we’re the best university for them rather than because we’re paying an agent more.”
The university reports that 20% of its international student intake came through appointed agents last year, a figure down on the previous year despite a growing intake. “There is a risk that we’re being foolish and that our competitors will undercut us in the market…We’re committed to an open and transparent approach. We think that’s fundamental.”
Raimo says the best case scenario for the university is that other institutions will follow its lead. “That’s what I’m hoping will happen but only time will tell. It’s a pretty competitive environment out there.”
In addition to its domestic internationalisation efforts, the University of Nottingham hosts 4,400 students at its Malaysian branch campus, one of the first UK branch campuses, and hope to reach 200,000 overseas students by 2020.