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July 25, 2011—A۰P۰L۰U President Peter McPherson today called for a broad-based discussion within the higher education community regarding a proposed ban on the use of commission-based agents in the recruitment of international students under consideration by the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC).
The NACAC board is considering banning the practice by U.S. colleges and universities. Commission-based recruiters receive a fee from the university for each international student who enrolls at a particular institution.
In a letter to NACAC President Jim Miller, McPherson wrote that the NACAC ban would impact some "institutions’ ability to recruit international students in the highly competitive global higher education market." He called the commission-based compensation of third party agents "standard business practice in international student recruiting" and pointed out that universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand consider "the practice manageable if sufficient university oversight is devoted to it."
He agreed that there is a need to address issues of abuse on the part of some international recruitment agencies and cited efforts by the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), a new organization recently established with leadership from several APLU member universities, to certify international student recruiting agencies.
McPherson expressed concern about the detrimental impact the ban would have on A۰P۰L۰U members’ ability to effectively recruit international students. "This could particularly affect smaller institutions, which cannot develop their own recruitment staffs, and which we would like to be more able to bring the benefits of international students to their campuses. I am also concerned that the proposed ban could undermine the efforts of AIRC, and the A۰P۰L۰U member universities involved in establishing it, by creating a disincentive for recruiting agencies to make the substantial investment it takes to obtain AIRC certification."
In three years, AIRC has grown to more than 150 member universities and has certified 43 recruiting agencies. It continues to work to develop a large base of certified agencies that the U.S. "higher education community needs to remain competitive."
McPherson concluded by calling for a fuller discussion within the higher education community before such a "far reaching proposal" would go into effect. He called on the NACAC Board to "defer consideration of the ban for a period of two years" and promised that A۰P۰L۰U would work with NACAC to address these important issues.
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