An episode of Canadian investigative journalism program, The Fifth Estate, on 12 October 2022, shone a light on international student recruitment in Canada, including the role of education agents and aggregators. It included an interview with ApplyBoard co-founder Meti Basiri, in which he confirms that ApplyBoard works with about 10,000 vetted sub-agents (ApplyBoard calls them “recruitment partners”, or “RPs”).
The program contains allegations by The Fifth Estate – based on hidden camera footage with education agents – that sub-agents in ApplyBoard’s network made misrepresentations to students about studying, working and living in Canada. Following the story, ApplyBoard emailed clients to refute the allegations.
The chart below shows that ApplyBoard’s network of sub-agent partners has grown quickly. It raced from 1500 in September 2019, to “10,000+” in July 2022 – more than a fivefold increase in less than three years.
In a post on its website in December 2022, ApplyBoard explained how it “vets and builds strong relationships with its recruitment partners”. It states:
While we’re excited to grow our network of RPs from a range of different backgrounds, this growth is driven by quality. Every ApplyBoard RP is required to pass through our vetting process. As the needs of international students constantly evolve, so do the requirements we set for our recruitment partners. It’s critical that we find the right partners who can mentor and guide our students throughout their application process.ApplyBoard
It also notes that ApplyBoard “has approved just 46% of all recruitment partner applications.”
The post then maps a seven step process for the assessment of new sub-agent recruitment partners:
- Initial outreach
- RP candidate fills out registration form – the submitted information is reviewed by ApplyBoard to check business registration, sanction status, reported misconduct by ApplyBoard partner institutions, and social media accounts.
- Registration form is approved or rejected.
- ApplyBoard Counsellor Courses are made available to new RPs.
- In-person visit – in ‘some jurisdictions’ and ApplyBoard recruitment manager will visit the agency to do an on-site check.
- RP’s must agree to ApplyBoard’s terms and conditions.
- A final decision is made on whether to grant access to the ApplyBoard platform.
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