Recruiters Draw Students From Abroad, for a Price

Universities make more off international students; agents get kickbacks
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2008 3:46 PM CDT
Chinese students and their parents get advice from a counsellor. British and Australian universities have long used recruiters to draw foreign students, and the process is spreading to North America.   (Getty Images (by Event) Individuals)
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(Newser) – More American universities are using recruiting agents to draw foreign students, and those middlemen are reaping the benefits—from both sides. One Chinese student paid $3,000 to a company that "suggested Ohio University might be the best for me," unaware that OU pays the company a $1,000 commission per student, the New York Times reports.

Agents are often a necessity in bringing foreigners to a campus, especially for smaller schools, but some question the ethics of the system. One education exec says, “Putting recruiters on any kind of commission makes them out-and-out sales agents.” And charging families for consultations may result in colleges enrolling the most well-off international students, rather than the most qualified.