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Jim Miller, President of NACAC, USA

The PIE: How will the commission be coming up with its decisions on best practice?

"We know there are numerous colleges who are having success internationally without paying agents or engaging agents at all in a formal way"

JM: There will be people involved in the conversations who use agents or who are very familiar with using agents for recruitment purposes. This isn’t just a closed conversation so we get the exact outcome we know we want. We are truly looking to reach out. In the conversations we want the commission to have, we want them to focus on what’s best for students – recognising the need for institutions to meet their goals but being sensitive that all of our institutions, at least in their missions statements, say they want what’s best for students.

The PIE: Do you have an idea of the percentage of your membership using agencies in any sort of form?

JM: That’s difficult as some will speak freely and some won’t. We can identity 100 or so who have said ‘we use agents and this is what we’ve done’. Our guess is that of the 3,000 or so colleges and universities in the nation there’s probably 10% that are using agents – so 200-300 schools. Our best-known universities are not doing it.

The PIE: Did you say that the submissions you received when you asked for comments on this were 50/50 in favour of/against the ban?

JM: I don’t remember the exact split but it was fairly even. But many of those who were saying we shouldn’t ban it, were still saying it’s not a good thing and we should put it in the recommended best practices section of the manual as not to do it instead of having it in the banned activity section.

The PIE: I feel that the Nacac’s decision is taken very seriously in the US and has generated lots of interest internationally. The fact you’ve held off from making a firm decision has been seen as positive. Do you think the US will still remain one of most popular markets globally if you don’t adopt the per-head recruitment practice that other countries are using?

Our guess is that of the 3000 or so colleges and universities in the nation there’s probably 10% who are using agents – so 200-300 schools

JM: The US is still immensely popular as you know. We’re still the favourite destination and continue to grow in the number of international students coming here, even though with the rise of recruitment by other countries like the UK and the Commonwealth countries, our market share has diminished. But I think the US will remain for a very long time as a highly desirable place for students to go to college. The world is changing quickly so to look forward 10 years if difficult to do. But because Nacac’s membership includes the vast majority of higher education institutions in the States and because we also include a few thousand secondary schools in US and a number of them abroad, when we make a decision it’s representative of what most universities are doing. So it is widely accepted and what influence it might have on practices around the globe, I don’t know.

The PIE: Do you have close liaison with government? 

JM: We regularly talk with the folks at Education USA, which is the education arm of the US State Department. We have regularly served as panellists and resources at the conferences they have for members. So yes, we are engaged in close conversation with the government. That said, the US government doesn’t have the same level of integrated international enrolment policy at the governmental level as I think you have in the UK.

The PIE: Have you been surprised by the level of interest this topic has generated among your members and internationally?

JM: I knew it was going to get a lot of interest, but I didn’t know when I got elected as NACAC president two years ago that this would be such a big portion of what’s on my plate. The very positive thing is that we’ve stimulated a conversation that has brought in lots of voices that weren’t talking to each other before. So we have people from Education USA, and College Board, the higher education community domestically and internationally, secondary people. NAFSA, ACRO – lots of folks are contributing to this conversation. I don’t know yet how it’s going to come out but I have an optimistic feeling that the outcome is going to serve the profession and students well in the end.

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3 Responses to Jim Miller, President of NACAC, USA

  1. As an agent – or better- an education consultant, since 1990- my opinion has always been that international rules and recognictions about the role of these people should be fixed. We are like in a limbo, sometimes and somehow considered people “begging” for money. I understand that many USA Colleges and Universities are too prestigeous (like many UK, Australian and Canadian institutions) and do not need the work of agents, but why should we put our organisations, staff and resources at disposal for free for the colleges and universities who ask for our help to recruite students? It is true that education in the interest of the students shouldn’t be mixed with “commercial” interest, but International Education is a big, big market, where nobody is willing to work for nothing, we couldn’t afford it! Last, but not least, do you think that workshops and fairs would survive if the agents’ expectations will be to work for free? This is a very sensitive issue which needs a solution.

  2. Most of us who want to use educational consultants do so because that is what the students and their parents want. I like having a contact that can act as a go between the school and the parents. It is a valuable assets in times of emergencies. Most of the people against using agents do so due to racism and mistrust of foreigners (they can’t be trusted) or from schools that simply do not have to recruit students. The last breakdown of who voted for or against, most voting against it were high school administrators. Their recruitment and university recruitment is apples and oranges.

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