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AIRC releases best practices guidance for US institutions

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • AIRC has released new best practices around international enrolment management and the recruitment of international students
  • Key emphases are ensuring institutions are set up to support international students for success and wellbeing, and educating institutions about how to work effectively and ethically with agents

The American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) has issued new guidelines to help colleges and universities to manage their international enrolments: “AIRC International Enrollment Management (IEM) Standards for U.S. Institutions.

There are five standards in total comprised in the document, and they are presented through a series of questions designed to engage readers with the material. The five areas covered are:

  • Mission and goals (including how defining purpose and goals, strong leadership, and committing to collaboration contribute to good practices of international enrolment management).
  • Institutional effectiveness (including questions to guide planning and management so that institutions can realise their international enrolment goals).
  • Marketing and recruitment (including questions about how “promotional activities can adhere to compliance requirements including honesty and transparency, diversity, equity, and inclusion, accountability for third-party relationships and appropriate consent for use of images”).
  • Admissions and enrolment (including an emphasis on admissions practices “based on academic performance and English proficiency” and on transparency in communications with students around “how admissions decisions are made, including, but not limited to, document translation and credit evaluation processes”).
  • Student wellbeing and services (including questions about how institutions can ensure they have a “sustained and comprehensive support system for students’ wellbeing’”).

The head of the working group that developed the standards, Jeet Joshee, associate vice president and senior international officer at California State University Long Beach, said: “The standards not only focus on student recruitment strategies, but also address the broad issues of global diversity and inclusion.”

AIRC President Sophia Iliakis-Doherty commented that, “These standards are a culmination of years of knowledge and experience from seasoned international education professionals.”

Working with agents

Within the marketing and recruitment section in the document, AIRC includes a number of questions designed to get institutions thinking about how effectively they are working with education agents, including whether they have solid contracts in place and whether they are collaborating with agents on marketing initiatives.

The questions underline how crucial it is for institutions to deliver accurate, comprehensive information and training to agents. Specifically:

3.4 Relationships with Third Parties, including Educational Agencies and Service Providers

3.4.1 How does the institution provide pertinent information and training on marketing and recruitment efforts to its educational agency partners and other third parties so that prospective students may make informed decisions about institutional choice, thereby ensuring better alignment between students’ expectations and their actual experiences?

3.4.2 How does the institution make certain that its legal relationships are reflected in written contracts or agreements with readily understood and up-front disclosure of services and related fees?

3.4.3 How does the institution help to determine that educational agencies, service providers and other third parties comply with their local and U.S. laws and federal regulations?

3.4.4 How does the institution ensure that information provided to prospective students via third parties is current and accurate at all times and throughout each stage of the recruitment process?

3.4.5 How does the institution ensure that educational agencies, service providers and other third parties are duly trained by, and remain current on, the institution they represent, including topics such as admission and scholarship requirements, academic programs, international student support services, diversity, equity and inclusion policies, and policies relevant to an international student’s institutional choice? How does the institution ensure information is clearly articulated regarding available marketing fees, commissions and other methods of compensation, dates and process for invoicing and payment. How does the institution address conflicting data on student enrollment and attribution, financial concerns and partnership disagreement?

3.4.6 How does the institution collaborate closely with its educational agencies, service providers and other third parties, and establish clear procedures for sustainable relationships, including mechanisms for compliance with AIRC guidelines?”

How the standards can be used

The standards join a growing body of guidelines aimed at professionalising international education marketing and enrolment management, including those published by ALTO, IALC, Universities UK, and the Australian government.

The expanding scope of these best practices guides testify both to increasing use of agents (and understanding of how effective the channel can be) and to a realisation that institutions are looking for resources to help them use this channel according to the highest standards.

AIRC hopes its standards will be used for in a variety of ways – including as a resource to guide international enrolment management and international recruitment by marketing executives and also as one that can be used to train new staff and in professional development for existing staff.

Soon, AIRC will be releasing “a toolbox of best practices in how to meet the standards that will be available online for all AIRC members.”

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