The secret life of international student recruitment agents

Most higher education institutions in UK, Australia and New Zealand actively work with international student recruitment agents, as do an increasing number in the United States. Agents have become a core part of the pathway to an international education for many students and vital to many higher education institutions in meeting challenging recruitment targets. While many agents have reported that they are struggling during Covid19 lockdowns, with overall international student mobility expected to be well down in 2020/21 compared to the previous year, agents are also showing how vital they can be to higher education institutions, providing on the ground intelligence while university staff are unable to travel and innovating to provide a bridge for students to institutions during a period of great uncertainty.

Despite the significant role agents play in international student mobility, research on the governance of student–agent-institution relationships is limited and in the UK the work of agents is often hidden from most academic staff.

The webinar will present recent research on the governance of international student recruitment agents: Iona Huang and Eddie West will present their findings on strategies adopted by higher education in Australia, the UK and the United States to govern the activities of their agents while Pii-Tuulia Nikula will consider the effectiveness of national frameworks for the governance of higher education institution–agent relationships and the protection they provide to students.