The topic of unscrupulous education agents comes up on occasion on this blog, so it’s nice to see that the industry is doing something about the problem:
A group of four countries — Australia, Britain, Ireland and New Zealand — issued an international code of ethics for education agents who recruit overseas students.
The so-called London Statement was drafted in March and unveiled in late April amid concerns about fraudulent practices by unscrupulous agents. It calls for all agents to conduct their business professionally and responsibly. (New York Times)
What’s the practical effect of all this? Probably nothing in the short term. The next thing these folks will do is reach out to agencies and get them to sign on to the standards, and then I assume figure out how to monitor agent activity and punish them somehow for bad acts.
I know, sounds kind of lame. But you have to start somewhere, even if the real bad guys will ignore all of this. Several things can happen if this gets traction. First (and best), governments can recognize some of these rules and translate them into binding industry standards. An international agreement would ultimately be the goal. Second, educational institutions would put pressure on agents, perhaps agreeing not to deal with those found to be violating the standards. Third, students and their families would begin to take notice of these efforts and decide only to patronize agents who are in compliance.
This is going to take a very long time, and given the huge numbers of desperate students out there who will fork over large sums of money to questionable agents, I wish this group the best of luck.