Middlemen used to bring international students to U.S. universities

USC’s increase in its number of international offices is starting to pay off. Not only has the number of Chinese student undergraduates grown at this university, but the nation has also felt the surge. In just five years, the number of Chinese undergraduates attending U.S. universities has grown nearly 60 percent, although this influx might be the result of professional sports-like marketing.

new report by InsideHigherEd.com found that agents are often used to bring international students to U.S. universities, operating as a middleman between the student and the university. Much like the relationship between an athlete about to enter a professional league and his agent, these middlemen work on commission to promote the best possible “client.”

The report discussed a survey among four U.S. schools — Grinnell College, Iowa State, Fort Hays State and USC — and five Chinese high schools; more than 60 percent of the polled high school students said they planned to use such agents, whereas 50 percent of Chinese college students said they had used them.

Agents have “raised educators concerns” according to a USC report as the agent’s fees are usually collected by from both the student and the institution, and the results are tangible. In the 2004-2005 school year, about 8,300 students from China enrolled in American universities. Today that number is close to 30,000.