Many educational institutions are grappling with the problem of unauthorised education agents – i.e. education agents that claim to act for the institution when in fact they don’t. These agents use the names and logos of educational institutions without permission to promote their services to students and their families.
In-house international student recruitment teams often express frustration and a sense of resignation when discussing the problem:
We know there are unauthorised agents claiming to act for us to attract students. We try to address it when we can but we are a small team and it is hard to keep up.International recruitment team member at a leading Canadian university.
Unfortunately there are lots of agents out there using our name and logo without our permission. As soon as we stop one agent doing it another two or three pop up. It is incredibly hard to stamp it out.International student recruitment team member at a UK university.
It’s worth unpacking the problem of unauthorised education agents to understand the risk implications for educational institutions.
Your institution is the bait…
The main reason that any education agent claims to act for an institution, when in fact no business relationship exists, is to attract students. The agent believes that adding more institution ‘client’ names and/or logos to its website, social media accounts, or promotional material will attract students who generally want to work with an agent who can offer a broad range of institutions and study options. Usually the agent who is using institution names and logos without authority will have a smaller portfolio of institutions to offer students – either through direct agency relationships with those institutions, or through a master agent or aggregator.
These agents use the ‘bait and switch’ approach – students are attracted by the impressive list of insitution names and logos and that gives the agent an opportunity to start a conversation with the student and their family. Once that happens the agent can try to steer the student to one of the institutions that the agent does have a direct or indirect relationship with, and from which they will receive a commission for a successful enrollment.
If your institution’s name and/or logo is being misused in this way it means that your intellectual property is the bait in a process that may well see a student (a) dealing with an unprofessional or unethical agent, and (b) enrolled at a competitor institution.
Misconduct by unauthorised education agents…
Things take a turn for the worse when unauthorised agents also engage in other serious misconduct including, for example, professional negligence, dishonesty, or even criminal conduct. Now your institution’s name and logo is linked to that behaviour, and that makes for a very serious reputational risk. Students and their families see your institution’s name and logo on the website and social media accounts of an education agent who has ripped them off, who has been struck off by a professional body for misconduct, or who has been accused or convicted of a criminal offence. Here’s a recent example.
How to detect unauthorised 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 your brand – detect cases of unauthorised education agents using your institution’s name, logo or other IP without permission.
- do due diligence on education agents – check new agents before agreeing to work with them, and run regular checks on current agents.
Note for institutions in Australia, NZ and Manitoba – our solution supports compliance with your regulatory obligations regarding agent checking and monitoring.
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