Guiding Students to the Highest Bidder

Credit: Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine

I recently had a video chat with a US secondary colleague who expressed frustration over how hard it is to work with education agents in Vietnam, many of whom seem mostly concerned with the amount of the commission they will receive for each student. Since this particular high school’s commission is lower than its boarding school competitors, many agents will guide students to those schools because it’s in their financial self-interest to do so.

This is an issue I’ve written and spoken about extensively. (Have a look at this list of articles.) It’s what I (and others) refer to as the “fatal flaw” of traditional commission-based recruitment. I also touch on it in a small contribution to a recently published book Student Recruitment Agents in International Higher Education – A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective on Challenges and Best Practices. It one of the main reasons why there is a compelling need for a more ethical and student-friendly alternative.

At Capstone Education, of which I’m managing director and a co-founder, we treat students and parents as the primary clients in the advising process, not partner schools. Our unique approach, which is ethical and makes financial sense, is explained here. Sometimes, a colleague will apologize for the low amount of the commission. My response is that we have never declined to work with an institution because of the commission. Some are low, others quite high. It all evens out in the end.

Principles first, revenue second.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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