Working with Agents

June 18, 2009 By: Cheryl Darrup-Boychuck

Current as of 2015


The topic of commission-based promotion generated the most robust and passionate discussion to date on NAFSA's Marketing and Recruiting professional network within the Recruitment, Admissions, and Preparation Knowledge Community. It's no wonder: As demand for overseas education soars, so too does the competition to appeal to the most qualified students in the world.

One element in international education that has not increased exponentially is the marketing budget of most U.S. campuses. Colleagues are struggling to boost enrollments in cost-effective ways.

At first glance, engaging agents appears to provide the most efficient return on investment, as agents are typically not paid their commission until the referred student arrives on campus. But there's much more to the story. Seasoned colleagues know that investing in a healthy and transparent relationship upfront is critical to the success of commission-based recruitment.

A number of colleagues have expressed concern about the overall concept of commission-based recruitment. The potential for conflicts of interest abound. Are agents working in the best interests of students, or are they more concerned with their own financial gain? How can you be sure the agents, thousands of miles away from your campus, are representing your institution appropriately? Who can you trust?

Engaging commission-based agents is a serious matter of international student recruitment and should not be taken lightly. As the practice gains popularity, particularly in the United States, NAFSA's Marketing and Recruiting network will provide the very latest insight on the ever-evolving trends. While this practice resource lays the foundation, I invite you to review and contribute to our continuing online discussions. Stay tuned.


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Cheryl Darrup-Boychuck was the Network Leader for NAFSA's Marketing and Recruiting Professional Network, 2007-09. She owns and operates, LLC and its family of 16 multi-lingual sites, all dedicated to encouraging non-U.S. students to learn more about studying in the United States. Darrup-Boychuck has been presenting at NAFSA regional and annual conferences for more than 10 years on topics such as eRecruitment and measuring return on investment in international student recruitment.