Avoiding Showdown on Agents

The National Association for College Admission Counseling — whose board just months ago took a strong stand against the use of commission-based agents to recruit international students — is delaying for at least two years any move to exclude colleges that disagree with such a stance. Further, NACAC will appoint a new commission to study the issue, raising the possibility that the association may not ever explicitly bar the use of agents.

These actions by NACAC’s board were announced Thursday, along with a statement that the board was affirming its position that colleges should not use agents paid in part on commission to recruit students. Despite that latter statement, supporters of the use of agents viewed the actions as a victory, and predicted that the practice would continue to spread.

Jim L. Miller, coordinator of enrollment research at the University of Wisconsin at Superior and president of NACAC’s board, said in an interview that the board’s draft policy of a few months ago was "a provocative statement, because we wanted to hear from people and learn what they had to say."

One of the things board members learned, he said, was that some 200 colleges and universities are already using agents paid at least in part on commission. Given that these colleges took their positions before the proposed clarification of NACAC policy, Miller said, it seemed wrong to punish them under the policy. That’s why the board decided to wait for two years before enforcing any new rules that could be adopted. The NACAC statement also said that the association would work during those two years to identify alternatives to the use of agents. Miller said he hoped this research might persuade some colleges to abandon the practice, which has been growing in recent years in the United States.


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