As the AgentBee research team traverses the web, we often come across education agents that do not have a website. Sometimes the agent has a url that when entered into the browser search bar returns a “404 – Page Not Found Error”, or displays a generic landing page from the domain hosting company that the agent purchased the domain url from. In other cases the agent simply has no url and no website at all.

The question – and one that should be asked by any educational institution working with, or considering working with, an education agent that does not have a website – is why? The internet is awash with options to design and host a website. Some providers even offer free options. The barrier to having a business website is now so low as to be almost non-existent. What credible reason is there for an education agent not to have a website?

What’s the big deal?

If an education agent does not have a website, is that really an issue? Let’s consider that question in the context of the prevailing approaches on standards of ethical behaviour by education agents.

The Statement of Principles for the Ethical Recruitment of International Students by Education Agents and Consultants (aka the London statement), issued by Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland in March 2012 set outs a framework for ethical conduct by education agents:

It also provides seven principles:

The elements of the London Statement were picked up and embedded in Australia’s Agent Code of Ethics and the UK’s National Code of Ethical Practice for UK Education Agents 2021. Both documents provide further guidance on compliance. When that guidance is considered in detail it becomes apparent that a business website that contains the key required information is important to support an education agent’s compliance with the ethical standards listed above.

Let’s look first at Australia’s Agent Code of Ethics. The guidance on “Principle 1: Agents and consultants practice responsible business ethics” includes a requirement for agents to provide “clear avenues for handling complaints and resolving disputes.” In relation to “Principle 5: Agents and consultants provide current and up-to-date information that enables international students to make informed choices when selecting which agent or consultant to employ” the document states that agents should provide “information to students about the accreditations the agents have met, the training they have undertaken, the memberships they hold to professional associations or processes undertaken to become registered and accredited education agents and consultants.” It also adds that agents should provide “information about themselves that support comparison of qualifications and experience.”

The UK document sets out elements of ‘expected practice’ for education agents. The elements relevant to consider here are:

No website, no compliance?

None of the guidance documents explicitly state that an education agent must have a business website. However, given that the barrier to establishing a website is so low it is hard to see any reason why an education agent should not have one in order to support compliance with the ethical and professional standards frameworks set out above by presenting the information in way that is clear and easily accessible for students.

With that in mind, the questions “Does the agent have a website?” and “If not, why not and what are the compliance implications?” are useful ones to add to your institution’s education agent due diligence checklist.

Working with education education agents?

AgentBee’s education agent due diligence solution supports educational institutions to implement best practice education agent due diligence processes.

Educational institutions can use it to:

  • protect students – conduct initial and ongoing due diligence checks on education agents.
  • protect your brand – detect cases of unauthorised agents using your institution’s name, logo or other IP without permission.

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