In October 2016 Australia’s education peak bodies endorsed a Code of Ethics for international education agents. I’ll call it ‘the Code’ from here on.
Australia takes the issue of education agents seriously. The Code was launched by Australia’s Minster for Education and Training, who said:
Today, to strengthen the fundamentals and ensure we maintain a quality system and establish more support in relation to how international education agents work, I’m pleased to announce that the sector is continuing to lead the way in raising their standards by releasing an agent code of ethics for Australian agents. This is something the Government wants to work closely with the sector to support and ensure that it is embraced by our providers and is robustly applied to uphold standards. Because we know that any lapse in standards, any sense of taking advantage of students, any failure of decent consumer behaviour is of course a risk not just to the one, but to all of us, to all of the providers and to the nation as a whole if we don’t uphold those best of consumer experiences.
The Code is the latest addition to the already well established framework of education agent regulation in Australia. It builds on the principles set out in the London Statement – signed by Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Ireland in 2012 to support best practice and the ethical recruitment of international students – and provides specific standards for education agents working in the Australian market. The Code also reflects the agent related obligations placed on institutions by the federal Education Services for Overseas Students Act and its companion National Code.
There is no doubt that Australia is well out ahead of the pack when it comes to recognising and responding to the important role that education agents play in the market, and the risks that come with working with agents. That’s a good thing given that recent research shows that in 2015 74% of international students studying at Australian Universities were enrolled through education agents.
“So you’ve got a new code – big deal”
Developing rules around the use of education agents – based on both formal legal regulation and industry self regulation – is critical to protect prospective students, and the institutions that are using agents. But the process of developing those rules and policies is just the first step.
Laws and policies that look and sound good count for little unless they are followed by meaningful implementation. The same is true of the Code. How will it be implemented in practice?
The effectiveness of the Code will depend entirely on the Australian institutions who are using agents. The Australian Minister’s speech quoted above makes this clear, and the body that developed the Code – the IEAA – also recognises this on its website:
It is now hoped that Australia’s education institutions will require all of their contracted education agents to sign up and adhere to this world first code.
Beasts of Burden
It is appropriate that the responsibility for education agent management and monitoring should rest with the institutions that are using agents to recruit international students. The challenge for institutions is doing that properly involves quite a lot of work. Usually that burden ends up resting on the shoulders of in-house international recruitment teams that are already stretched by the demands of their other priorities and tasks.
Institutions can minimise the administrative burden involved with best practice education agent management by ensuring that they have good systems in place to support implementation by in-house teams.
Our Agent Manager solution can help here. It’s a complete cloud-based agent management system designed for in-house recruitment teams that:
- Manages risk – by giving you tools to protect students, and your brand by monitoring agent engagement and performance.
- Increases enrollments through your agent channel – by making it easy for you to engage with agents regularly and give them easy access to the information and resources they need to recruit for you.
- Saves time for in-house recruitment teams – by making it easy to do the daily tasks involved with managing your agent network – eg updates, training, and performance monitoring.
Click here to find out how Agent Manager can help you monitor agent engagement and performance.