Colleges Hiring Private Agencies To Boost International Recruiting

June 2, 2010

global educationColleges and universities are increasingly turning towards the private sector to aggressively recruit international students--a practice that was almost unheard of as recently as two years ago.

"Colleges and universities, a lot of them, are just hungry to internationalize themselves," explained Richard W. Ferrin, president and CEO of international student recruiting company World Education Group, who was interviewed by Inside Higher Ed. "This is for a variety of reasons, sometimes financial--we want these full-paying international students to help with our budget flows--and even with the best of educational aims, we want a more diverse student body."

Increased revenue for institutions is definitely an important factor driving stepped-up international recruitment. The Chronicle of Higher Education points out that at the University of South Florida, which hired two private companies to recruit international students, in-state students pay $5,100. Out-of-state and international students, meanwhile, pay more than three times as much.

"For an institution that has lost more than a third of its state support over the past three years," notes the Chronicle, "that out-of-state money could be crucial."

But tuition dollars and diversity aren't the only reasons for the trend; Inside Higher Ed points out that the establishment of the American International Recruitment Council in 2008 is arguably the most significant change. The Council aims to regulate and professionalize the industry and currently certifies 24 agencies in 35 countries that meet its standards.

"Now there is a large group of certified agents," noted Marguerite J. Dennis, vice president for enrollment and international programs at Massachusetts' Suffolk University, who was quoted by Inside Higher Ed. "They have been validated, if you will, they have been vetted. Now it's up to us, those of us who are involved in international education, to determine if we want to use them."

The Chronicle acknowledged that the recruitment companies face bureaucratic roadblocks from many who have ethical objections to paying outside recruiters. Nevertheless, many more institutions are now willing to consider the practice than before.

In a nod to the trend, IDP Education, an Australia-based international student recruiting company, just announced that it will be holding an 18-city overseas student recruitment road show for Fall 2010. The event will showcase U.S. colleges and universities to students in India, China, the Middle East, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Compiled by Staff


"American Colleges Look to Private Sector for Global Recruiting," The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 30, 2010, Karin Fischer

"From Taboo to Hot Topic," Inside Higher Ed, June 1, 2010, Elizabeth Redden

"IDP Education Ramps Up International Student Recruitment Efforts, Announces Overseas Road Shows for its U.S. Partners,", June 2, 2010

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