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US: media fuels concerns over agency fraud

Around 70% of US education institutions expressed concern about fraudulent practice among education agencies, according to a recent report, with over half of the report’s survey respondents saying they find out about bad practice through the media.

Almost a third of US institutions now use educational agencies, which recruit an estimated 22% of all international students

The pace of adoption of international student recruitment agencies by US institutions, produced by Bridge Education Group and StudentMarketing, found that 54% of respondents are aware of a negative experience when working with agencies through press coverage, with 39% saying they are aware from another US HE institution.

“Many will have no choice but to use agents”

“The more exposure the media brings to charlatan agents, their victims and the schools who engage the charlatans, the better,” said one anonymous respondent in the report.

In addition, close to a quarter (23%) said they had a bad first-hand experience themselves, however, another 23% said they weren’t aware of, or hadn’t had any bad experiences.

“It is rare to find an article that features a student that was recruited by an agency, admitted to his or her dream institutions, thrived at that institution and returned home to a fantastic career,” noted Mike Finnell, executive director of the American International Recruitment Council.

A lack of trust is the main reason US institutions said they do not engage with or work with education agencies, the report says.

It also found that among respondents who don’t use education agencies, the “reputational risk” commission-based agencies pose was the second most cited reason why. Commission being an undesired cost, was the next most commonly reported reason.

Despite some of the negative perceptions surrounding the use of agencies in the US, the adoption of this channel of international student recruitment is actually on the rise.

“Those working with agencies conclude that, rather than it [fraudulent behaviour] being a reason not to work with education agents, institutions must remain vigilant as it might also stem from the applicants themselves,” the report states.

The report also reveals that almost a third of US institutions now use educational agencies, which recruit an estimated 22% of all international students.

“As long as they need the revenue that international students bring, schools will be forced to engage in more and more aggressive recruiting,” said one respondent to the survey.

“Many will have no choice but to use agents.”

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