Recruiting Intelligence

How much to pay commission-based student recruiters?

In many international recruiting markets, universities engage commission-based recruiters to assist with marketing and recruitment efforts. 

The payment for this service is based on a success fee for enrolling a student at a particular university, so there is generally no risk for the university to have out-of-pocket expenses without an enrollment, making it attractive to admissions professionals. The prevalent market range as compensation appears to be between 8 - 25 percent of first year tuition (excluding housing costs) paid by the international student. A 10 percent rate seems to be the most prevalent single rate.  The payment is genernally tied to the cash received by the university. Some colleges prefer to pay a fixed fee, which eliminates any discussions of the tuition level if the university provides financial support to the student. 

You'll find other stipulations and terms, such as additional fixed marketing payments to the agent. Some universities like to pay the fee over two semesters to make sure that they have retained the student, if tuition payments are not on an annual basis.

You should also keep in mind that in most cases the commission-based agreement is signed with the recruiting agency. The counselors tend to be paid a salary in most countries and don't necessarily benefit from recommending any specific university. On one hand, this separation of fee and recommendation is useful, since the counselors, student and parents need to focus on the appropriate match and college fit for the student. On the other hand, you need to remember that the agencies have dozens of colleges under contract and you need to provide up to date, relevant materials, even in local language. The counselors will try to find the easiest and fastest fit to place the student. 

Lastly, in many instances, university commission payments are only part, and frequently a small part, of the compensation for the counseling agency. Parents pay an advisory fee as one would pay to an independent college counselor in the United States. 

We have and will continue to publish additional blogs on topics related to commission-based recruitments and other international student recruitment methods.

Other resources related to commission-based recruitment:

AIRC - certified agencies:

NACAC- Summary statement

Video "Department of Commerce" from NACAC hearing on commission-based recruiting

 (There are many different video testimonials from that NACAC working session on YouTube, see recommendations on YouTube page) 




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