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ICEF Setting a new global standard for agency accreditation and quality assurance

Published Bernice on Wednesday, November 1, 2023 10:00 AM

ICEF Setting a new global standard for agency accreditation and quality assurance

ICEF expands its IAS agency accreditation program and implements a new code of conduct for education agencies, paving the way for further industry self-regulation

The international education marketplace has become increasingly complex. Students are faced with an ever-increasing range of options as to what to study, where, and how. At the same time, a greater number of destinations – and education institutions – are competing for students’ attention. The range of available study programs has grown exponentially, as have the channels through which students seek information about available courses, scholarships, internships, as well as post-study work and residency opportunities.

Navigating that complexity – and finding the best option for each student – requires skillful and professional guidance. As a result, both students and educators are increasingly turning to education agents for support. Students rely on agents to help them plan for study abroad, while institutions and schools appreciate the local expertise and reach of agents as they work across markets, languages, and cultures to build a more diversified foreign enrollment.

Especially coming out of the pandemic, technology and other market shifts have made it much easier for new agents to enter the marketplace, and for sub-agent networks to expand beyond what has been seen in the past. It is therefore more important than ever for professional agents to distinguish themselves and to demonstrate their qualifications and standards. This is why ICEF has expanded and further strengthened its ICEF Agency Status (IAS) accreditation program.

“The increasing use of education agents in international recruitment also underscores the need for improved quality standards,” says ICEF CEO Markus Badde. “The number of active agents continues to grow quickly yet the sector still remains largely unregulated. For decades we have consistently worked to advance professional standards in international student recruitment by screening, training and accrediting education agencies. Given current circumstances we feel there is now a need to do more. Over a year ago, we introduced block chain technology enabling students, parents, and educators to easily and instantly verify an agency's IAS accreditation. Now we have gone even further with the implementation of a more in-depth vetting process for participating agencies, with increased agent monitoring and quality assurance measures carried out by ICEF’s globally distributed Agents Relations team.”

ICEF also announced today the establishment of a new Code of Conduct for education agencies – a set of best practices that all IAS agencies are now required to endorse. The Code of Conduct draws on important foundation work for best practices in the field, and provides a simple and clear standard for professional conduct in the sector.

There are currently over 1,500 education agencies in 115 countries who have been accredited and have ICEF Agency Status - a designation that is valid for one year and for which the vetting and review process is refreshed annually. This fast-growing base of IAS agencies already represents the largest network of accredited agencies in the industry, and, as such, represents a new global standard for agency recognition and quality assurance.

"Having a trusted source of accredited agencies around the world is imperative, particularly at a time when lower barriers to entry have created a proliferation of new agency players” says ICEF's Executive Director for Agent Relations Tiffany Egler. “With the ICEF Code of Conduct in place, and with the steps we have taken to expand the IAS program, schools, colleges, and universities can now be better assured that they are working with professional organizations to ensure the best possible outcomes for their international students."

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