Recruitment agents sign up to code of ethics

The British Council has launched an online list of student recruitment agents that have signed up to certain principles.

November 24, 2013

The new register will list those agents that have taken British Council training, accepted an ethical code of practice and agreed to be assessed again in the future.

All UK education institutions will have access to the database, the council said.

There have been concerns that agents may not offer unbiased advice to overseas students looking to study in the UK because they are paid on a commission basis.

A Times Higher Education investigation last year found that agents for UK universities were paid around £1,000 per student, almost always on commission.

In a statement, the council said: “The aim is to increase the number, effectiveness and quality of agents working on behalf of UK schools, colleges, language centres and universities and to build agent capacity and professionalism in an industry that plays a key role in the multi-billion dollar worldwide international student recruitment market”. 

The list will name those agents that have signed up to the London Statement, a code of ethics brokered by the council last year.

It does not prohibit payment by commission but does say agents must be “transparent in fees to be paid by students and commissions paid by providers”.

Kevin Van-Cauter, the British Council’s international higher education advisor, stressed that the list did not amount to an accreditation of agents.

“But we hope the global trained agents database and roll-out of the advanced training will add greater assurance to institutions that they are getting the best possible services when it comes to international student recruitment, and therefore assurance to students that they will be accessing the best possible advice,” he said.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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