Agent Governance in Student Recruitment

A Code of Compliance, Vetting, Ethic and Integrity Management Practices

By MSM Unify and Abcodo

With the increasing reliance on education agents for international student recruitment in higher education, we abide by a governance code that outlines compliance, vetting, ethics, and integrity management practices for agents.

This involves thorough coordination, constant monitoring, and relational contractual governance to ensure full compliance to policies and prevent mis-selling or misrepresentation, acts of fraud and deceit, and violations of institutions’ contractual rights. These practices also help mitigate risks around the institutions’ brand reputation in a global market.

Company Background

MSM Unify and Abcodo are backed by a global organisation with a strong foundation of supporting education agents in their growth and development through network building, training, and ongoing support in crucial functions such as application and institution invoicing. This strong support emerges from a commitment to deploy only the best, most qualified and experienced recruitment professionals to higher education institutions (HEIs) we work with.

We are affiliated with 4,500 agents around the world, including in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Rwanda, Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, Mauritius, South Africa, and many more.

Agent Vetting Process

  1. An education agent typically gets onboard at MSM through five general steps:
    1. An agent hears about MSM Unify / Abcodo and connects with us through one of our local managers or admissions partners.
    2. We schedule a meeting with an agent and present the benefits of being an Abcodo agent.
    3. If interested, the agent fills out an Agent Evaluation Form and submits all the required documents and necessary industry references. 
    4. We conduct a comprehensive reference and background check.
    5. Agent signs up as a partner agent.
  2. Agents are required to provide proof of Business Registration or Business License. 
  3. They must share photographs of physical office premises. 
  4. They must provide two (2) independent institutional references based on the pool of institutions to which they have already recruited students. 

Ethical Standards

  1. Regular monitoring ensures that agents follow all protocols and ethical practices laid out on MSM Unify, including the following:
    1. All agents should operate within an underlying ethical framework of:
      1. Integrity – Being honest in all business dealings
      2. Objectivity – Preventing bias or conflict of interest from compromising professional judgment
      3. Competence – Maintaining professional service, knowledge, and due diligence at all times
      4. Transparency – Disclosing any conflict of interest to clients, particularly around service fees charged to institutions and other parties such as students
      5. Confidentiality – Preserving the integrity and confidentiality of personal data and information, never releasing them to third parties without due permission or authorisation
      6. Professional conduct – Consistently acting within the bounds of the laws and regulations in the industry
      7. Professionalism – Acting in a manner that serves the interests of institutions and the bigger industry, sometimes even at the cost of a degree of self-interest, in order to earn and maintain trust and respect
    2. All agents should practice sound, responsible business principles, including the following:
      1. Providing current, up-to-date, realistic, truthful information in an ethical way
      2. Using written agreements and providing an open trail of documentation to develop transparent business relationships with institutions and students
      3. Protecting and preserving the interests of minors
      4. Allowing prospective students to make informed and educated choices when selecting their agent or pursuing their application
      5. Share information and best practices to raise ethical standards across destination countries and markets

Agent Access and Interaction with Students on MSM Unify

  1. The platform recommends agents to students based on their performance and success rate in student visa approvals and enrolment. 
  2. Current and future platform features ensure security and genuine client identity.
    1. A real-time email verification system is in place to register students on MSM Unify. No two students can have the same email IDs.
    2. A One-Time Password (OTP) based verification system is in place to verify the students’ contact numbers. No two students can have the same contact numbers, prohibiting any potential attempts of agents to use their agency contacts.
    3. An AI-based facial recognition feature that matches the IELTS TRF photograph of the student with the one found on their passport is in the pipeline.

Agent Training and Development

  1. MSM Unify and Abcodo conduct regular, timely and continuing agent training programs (held face-to-face or online) to guide them in best industry practices. 
  2. These subject-specific training for agents and counselors are led by experienced MSM teams and are free of charge for our affiliates’ continuing professional development. 
  3. The training topics include but are not limited to the following:
    1. Matching students with the right programs, institutions, and/or destination countries based on their study interest, preferences, and circumstances 
    2. Individual and institutional roles and responsibilities under laws on data protection, bribery, etc. in different countries and jurisdictions
    3. Agent activity and working practices consistent with the code of ethics and guidance from each country or jurisdiction on working with international students 
    4. Access to proper legal advice and information regarding agent relationships, with contracts detailing sufficient specification of behaviours and expectations
    5. Tailored marketing and communication strategies for agent support
    6. A healthy, continuing due diligence process via training, support, knowledge exchange, and performance improvement recommendations

Data Security and Privacy Standards

  1. MSM Unify complies with or exceeds the data protection and privacy policies of all origin and destination countries.
  2. We strongly encourage our signed agents to familiarise themselves with these same policies to ensure that their data and the data of their students are kept private and secure at all times.