This is a topic I’ve written (and spoken) about for many years. It might be time for me to update a 2014 article of mine entitled Walking the walk – Ethical agency-based recruitment about the many ways in which education companies cheat their partners, non-partners, and clients. The list just keeps getting longer and longer. Sigh.
OK, here’s how it works. Company ABC organizes an education fair. In order to ensure that all of the colleagues in attendance are “shown the love” and to guarantee better photo-ops (think quantity over quality), attendees receive a GIFT, if they speak to ALL of the representatives.
Go to the tables, ask a perfunctory question or two, get your stamp, and repeat – until you’re finished. Then go collect your GIFT. I sure hope it’s a good one for all of that effort. Jump through the hoops and get the reward. You earned it! (Don’t forget to pick up a few pens, pennants, water bottles, and whatever else you can get your greedy little hands on along the way.) Good job. That’s a wrap. Now find another fair that does the exact same, stupid thing, and let another fun begin – again.
The only problem with this approach is that fair attendees who do this really don’t care (I’m writing for a G-rated audience here…) about asking meaningful questions or picking up promotional materials of interest to them. In fact, it’s safe to say that most probably don’t intend to study abroad. They just want the stamps, the way your dog, cat or whatever wants its treats, which lead to the gold, or whatever, at the end of the rainbow. What do colleagues whose institutions pay large sums of money to travel overseas and recruit students get? Wasted time and the empty feeling of being played.
This is on par with 1) paying students who “bring a friend” a finder’s fee of sorts; 2) paying student volunteers a per head fee for every “warm body” they bring with them; 3) busing in unqualified students; and 4) hiring “faux students” through a service to boost attendance. (I described these in this 15 January 2019 post.) What do these practices have in common? Say it with me, They are part and parcel of a DOG & PONY SHOW! It’s pure deception and not very subtle, at that. Giveaways are fine at these events, but for God’s sake, and the sake of ethics, don’t link them to active participation.
It never ceases to amaze me just how many ways companies engage in unethical business practices. Imagine what the world would be like if they channeled all of this energy and creativity into doing the right thing!
And the beat goes on…
Shalom (שלום), MAA
Postscript: If you work for a company that plays one or more of these games, then the shoe definitely fits. Wear it but definitely not with pride!