Nacac softens stance on agent usage at USA colleges
The National Association for College Admission Counselling (Nacac) in the USA has indicated a softening of its stance towards commission-based agency recruitment, recommending a policy that members “should not” provide incentive-based compensation, rather than current wording of “may not”.
Nacac’s Commission on International Student Recruitment has submitted its report and recommendations for changes to the Statement of Principles of Good Practice. Specifically, the commission recommends: Members should not provide [best practice] incentive compensation based on the number of students enrolled internationally.
In the report, the Commission said Nacac needed to recognise the current state of international recruitment by “removing the absolute restriction in favour of a more nuanced, best practice stance”. Approximately one-quarter of higher education institutions are currently using agency-based recruitment for degree-seeking international students, the report said. Given that 26.8 per cent of institutions do not actively recruit overseas, around one third of those that are actively recruiting internationally are using agents, with the true figure likely to be higher.
The use of agents is outlawed for domestic recruitment in the USA, and a proposed ban on international usage was deferred in 2011 while the commission investigated the issue. “The Commission acknowledged that the environment for international student recruitment practices is dynamic, not static,” said Philip A. Ballinger, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment and Director of Admissions at the University of Washington and Chair of the Commission, adding Nacac wished to guide change on the issue.
It was agreed that colleges must retain appropriate oversight of their relationships. “Accountability for ethical recruitment and student support, particularly in the rapidly growing international recruitment market, rests with institutions.”
In terms of transparency, the Commission recommends: clear disclosure of arrangements by institutions with third-party agents to prospective students; providing clear disclosure of arrangements by agents with institutions to students; and ensuring that terms of transactions between agents, institutions and families are clear and published.
It was acknowledged that there had been successful agency partnerships among Nacac members. “There are institutions and organisations which appear to use such agency [ies] responsibly and demonstrably for the good of the students they serve.”
Nacac’s long-standing concerns with commission-based payments were also outlined. “While not all Commission members agreed that problems were endemic to the practice of incentive compensation, members generally agreed that there were circumstances under which incentive compensation could prove problematic by exacerbating tendencies toward misbehaviour.”
The recommendations will be voted on for approval by member institutions at the Nacac Conference in Toronto in September.
FDSV survey shows German outbound trends
The UK continues to be comfortably the most favoured destination for German students, particularly in the junior segment, according to the 2012 language travel market analysis released by German agency association FDSV.
The survey of member agencies, conducted in cooperation with the University of Heilbronn, showed that English language courses accounted for 82.6 per cent of bookings overall and 93.5 per cent in the junior market.
There was greater variance within the adult market, where English was requested by 64 per cent of clients; Spanish was the second-most popular language with 16.1 per cent a three per cent increase over 2011. The UK was chosen by 25.4 per cent of adult clients, followed by Malta (17.5), Spain (10.9), USA (10) and France (10).
The junior market represented 63 per cent of language travel business for respondents, and the UK had a clear domination of this market, chosen by over three quarters of students. Malta was the only other destination to record double-digit market share.
UK Student Visitor Visa working well
The Student Visitor Visa (SVV) route is working well with very low levels of abuse, according to the results of a sample study released by the UK Home Office.
A statement from the Home Office said SVV, used for study up to six months in duration for non-EU students, was attracting “high value, low-risk immigrants who contribute positively to economic growth”.
Student Visitors, Research Report took a sample of over 1,000 applications from visa nationals (nationals that require entry clearance) between June 2011 and May 2012, while a sample of 947 non-visa nationals (nationals that can apply for entry at the port) were interviewed at Heathrow Airport in November 2012.
Around two-thirds of both visa nationals (64 per cent) and non-visa nationals (62 per cent) came for English language studies. Exchange programmes were the second most common reason, accounting for 85 per cent of students from the USA.
Among the non-visa nationals, Brazilian students represented 34.5 per cent of the sample, followed by students from the USA (27 per cent), Japan (17.4) and Korea (7.2). The median length of stay among this sample was seven weeks, with only 23 per cent intending to stay more than 12 weeks.
Of the visa national sample, Russians accounted for 19.1 per cent of successful applicants, followed by Chinese (15.6), Turkish (12.8), Saudi (9.5) and Indian (6.6). The average length of stay was just over four weeks. Of the applicants already in employment in their home country, 23 per cent were teachers.
The study found that 82 per cent of non-visa nationals and 80 per cent of visa nationals were due to attend courses at Highly Trusted Sponsor institutions, although this is not a mandatory requirement of study on the Student Visitor Visa.
The report also looked at 304 unsuccessful applications from visa nationals. Turkey represented 15.1 per cent of these, with other nationalities including Chinese, Indian, Nigerian and Russian. Insufficient documentation was the most commonly cited reason for refusal, given in 50.4 per cent of cases.
Liden & Denz to open in Latvia
Russian language school Liden & Denz has announced its first expansion outside of Russia, with a centre set to open in the Latvian capital of Riga in January 2014.
The Liden & Denz Language Centre Riga will use the premises of Education Centre Durbe, an existing operator which has recently passed the Eaquals inspection scheme, and the cooperation between the two schools is based on a far-reaching agreement covering both academic and non-academic areas of the business.
Liden & Denz Owner, Walter Denz, said, “This is the first time ever we have entered such a close cooperation. Our partner school has made great efforts to bring their course portfolio, starting dates and syllabi in line with ours. This will allow students to move easily from Riga to St. Petersburg and Moscow or vice versa. Nora Poisa, the owner, runs a lovely school right in the historical centre. I am convinced that our students will appreciate Riga to learn Russian!”
Poisa said, “Our two teams have worked hard to create a win-win situation with the aim of bringing more students to our beautiful city. Liden & Denz have an impressive agent base and are the market leader for providing Russian courses. Teaming up with them makes absolute sense to us.”
Denz said there were several benefits of studying in Latvia: as a Schengen country many students will be able to travel visa-free; the Jurmala suburban resort area is close to Riga and will serve as a summer residence for junior courses; Riga offers executive accommodation options; and the country is easily accessible, served by several European low-cost airlines.
Bookings and enquiries for 2014 study in Latvia are being accepted and will pass through the usual central Liden & Denz booking office.
Fears over US J-1 Exchange programme
Brazilian agency association Belta has joined growing international opposition to elements of a Senate Immigration Bill that threatens to prohibit the collection of fees by sponsors and agents on the US J-1 exchange programme.
The bill, being considered in the Senate at the time of writing, proposes to reclassify exchange visitors as “workers” and as such would prohibit the collection of any placement or programme fees from participants by sponsors and overseas agents, both of which would be classified as “foreign labor contractors” and would be required to post bonds with the Department of Homeland Security.
Belta President Carlos Robles said, “The proposed legislation would prevent our companies from collecting fees for services provided, and make it impossible to continue to operate.”
Robles said the proposals undermined the principles of the 50-year-old scheme. “Belta recruiting agency members and their sponsoring organisations are not ‘foreign labor contractors’. Our members promote cultural exchange programmes that fulfil the intended objectives of the US Government to provide young people with positive experiences that last a lifetime, and encourage personal growth and discovery, new global friendships and improved English language capability,” said Robles.
Disputing the proposed definition of J-1 visitors as “workers”, he said, “Exchange visitor participants are part of a cultural exchange and their goals are different from those of workers on a labour programme.” He added that as ‘workers, participants would have less oversight and support and would be more open to abuse.
The World Youth Student & Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation leads opposition to the legislation. “If the bill is passed in its present state, it stands to devastate the United States’ largest exchange programme, and a vital component of US public diplomacy,” said a statement.
The Alliance for International and Cultural Exchange, an association of sponsors in the J-1 scheme, highlighted the threats to the programme.
“Without programme revenue, which allows the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) to operate without appropriated funds, the public-private partnership that drives the programme and thus the programme itself will collapse,” said a statement.
The Alliance added that a proposed amendment that would require sponsors to pay US$500 per participant “would severely curtail, if not completely eliminate” the programme, adding sponsors’ revenue per student was well under US$500.
Lexis moves into Korean teaching market
Lexis English has opened a new Korean language school in Seoul, becoming the group’s first campus outside of Australia.
Due to open this month and located in the central Gangnam district, Lexis Korea will offer programmes including Intensive Korean, Topik Exam Preparation and one-to-one Academic classes. Under the Lexis English brand, the school will also provide English language and academic testing services to local students. Accommodation options include student dorms, studio apartments and homestay.
Ian Pratt, Managing Director of Lexis English, said, “We’ve gone for quite a substantial investment in the new premises, and are looking to establish ourselves as a key player in the Korean language tuition market.”
Pratt said he had been delighted by the initial response to the venture. “While we are aware that Korean language study remains a niche product in many markets, we’ve been genuinely taken aback by the response from our agents around the world. We’d like to take this partly as a vote of confidence in the Lexis brand, but also as an indication of just how much interest there is out there in less traditional study travel destinations and Korea in particular.”
Lexis Korea will offer a centralised enrolment and marketing service for agents, with same-day application processing through the Lexis English Registrations Team. The school was set to open on August 5.