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Standard 4 - Education Agents

Agent Appointment, Monitoring and Termination Procedure

Policy Code: CG1440

Purpose

International Education Agents are often the first point of contact between prospective students and the Australian international education industry. Their activities and ethics are important to Australia’s reputation as a desirable destination for students. The University is therefore committed to ensuring its agents, and the agents of its Partner Providers, act ethically and appropriately when recruiting students to study Federation University programs/qualifications.

Scope

This procedure applies to:

  • Agents of the University; and
  • Staff at Federation University involved in the appointment, accreditation and monitoring of agents.

Definitions

A complete list of definitions relevant to this procedure is contained within the Agent Appointment, Monitoring and Termination Policy.

Actions

Agent Appointment Procedure

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A Sending Approved Agent Application Form to prospective agent Coordinator, International Education Agents; Manager, International Student Recruitment; or International Recruitment staff.
  1. Send the form to an agent the International Student Recruitment team is interested in working with.
B Completing the Approved Agent Application Form Agent
  1. Complete all sections of the form and gather the supporting documentation requested on the form
  2. Provide the details of three referees. These referees should have agreed to be the referee of the agent, and aware that they will be contacted by the University. The referees should preferably be from Australian universities, but Australian private or vocational providers, overseas universities, and similar institutions may also be acceptable under some circumstances.
  3. Email the completed form, referees, and documents to the Coordinator, International Education Agents.
C Checking available information to determine whether the agent is suitable to appoint Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Check whether PRISMS data is available for this agent, and if so, whether the agent currently meets the Agent Performance and Compliance Measures detailed below.
  2. Check the agent’s website and social media profiles to determine whether their marketing is of appropriate quality, ethics and professionalism.
D Contacting referees for completion of Agent Reference Check form Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Email referees the Agent Reference Check form, and ask them to complete it.
  2. In cases where referees do not respond to emails or are unable to complete the Agent Reference Check form due to the policies of their institution, email the agent and request they provide a replacement referee. (Where referees refuse to complete the form for other reasons, these will be taken on a case-by-case basis and may reflect negatively on the prospective agent.)
  3. Consider the referees’ answers on the form, and any other information provided, to determine the suitability of the agent for appointment. A minimum of two positive references is required to appoint.
E Conducting a final assessment of suitability to appoint, in light of all available information Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Review all available information and documentation and determine whether the agent is suitable to appoint.
F Prepare Agent Agreement Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. If agent is approved for an Agent Agreement, use details on the Approved Agent Application Form to fill in the relevant sections of the Agent Agreement template. This template will have been prepared in coordination with the University’s Legal team and must be updated as required to include any new Department of Home Affairs or Department of Education, Skills and Employment or University regulations and requirements.
  2. The term of the agreement should generally be one year for new agents.
  3. The territory should reflect the countries where the agent has offices, or where it can otherwise demonstrate adequate quality control and support measures are in place for the recruitment of students.
G Send Agent Agreement PDF to Agent Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Email the Agent Agreement PDF to the agent.
H Sign and return the Agent Agreement Agent
  1. The key contact at the agent (eg the CEO or General Manager) signs the Agent Agreement.
  2. Another staff member witnesses this signature.
  3. Email the signed and witnessed agent agreement back to the Coordinator, International Education Agents.
I Countersign the Agent Agreement Coordinator, International Education Agents; and Manager, International Student Recruitment.
  1. The Manager, International Student Recruitment countersigns the Agent Agreement.
  2. Another staff member, usually the Coordinator, International Education Agents, witnesses this signature.
J Returning the countersigned Agent Agreement to the agent Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Email the countersigned Agent Agreement to the agent.
K Update appropriate files and databases Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Create a folder for this agent on SharePoint.
  2. Upload the countersigned Agent Agreement, Approved Agent Application Form, Agent Reference Check forms, and any other relevant documents, notes or correspondence to the SharePoint folder.
  3. Contact StudyLink to have this agent added to the University’s system, so they can submit applications.
  4. Update the Agent Contract tracking spreadsheet in SharePoint with the details of this agent’s agreement, including expiry date.
  5. Link to the relevant agent offices/locations in the AscentOne Easy Agent system, or take other actions as required to ensure the agent is displayed on the public-facing University website.
  6. Add or link agent’s details in PRISMS.
L Inform agent of negative outcome of application Coordinator, International Education Agents; Manager, International Student Recruitment; or International Recruitment staff.
  1. If an agent is deemed not suitable to appoint at or before activity E, email them to inform them of this outcome.
  2. The Coordinator, International Education Agents should ensure this happens, but the email can be sent by the Manager, International Student Recruitment or the International Recruitment staff member who first flagged the opportunity to work with the agent, if deemed appropriate.

Agent Auditing and Monitoring Procedure

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A Review agent performance Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Review the agent’s data from PRISMS, StudyLink and fdlGrades to determine whether they have met the appropriate benchmarks. This should be done immediately prior to the expiry of an Agent Agreement, as part of the renewal process, or else annually around the anniversary of the Agent Agreement being created/renewed.  
  2. Collate any feedback from International Student Recruitment team from their agent site visits and other recruitment activities.
B Send Agent Audit form Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Email the Agent Audit form to the agent. If the agent’s data reveals issues which need to be addressed, seek an explanation for these in the email.
C Complete and return Agent Audit form Agent
  1. Complete the Agent Audit form.
  2. Collect any supporting documentation required for the Agent Audit form.
  3. Investigate and prepare a response for any issues that have been raised by the Coordinator, International Education Agents.
  4. Email the form, documents and response (if required) to the Coordinator, International Education Agents.
D Review Agent Audit form, supporting documents and other information Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Review the Agent Audit form and supporting documents to confirm the agent continues to meet compliance requirements. In considering the performance of the agent, the University or the Coordinator, International Education Agents may consider:
    • The agent’s compliance with the Agent Agreement and any conditions placed on the agent by the University;
    • The number of students the agent has recruited;
    • The conversion rate of Student applications to University offers, and University offers to actual enrolment of students;
    • The reasons why applications from potential students did not proceed to student enrolment status;
    • The number of student visa refusals for students recruited by the agent;
    • The reasons for visa refusals (eg fraud) for students recruited by the agent;
    • The post-arrival performance of students recruited by the agent, including CoE cancellations, academic performance, and non-payment of fees;
    • Any feedback or information from students or third parties regarding the agent;
    • The quality, accuracy and currency of information and advice provided by the agent to students;
    • The quality of the appointment as assessed by the University; and
    • any other relevant information obtained by the University.
  2. If there are compliance issues arising from the form or documents, address these with the agent.
  3. If the agent has provided a response to these queries, or queries raised earlier in the process, consider this response and ask them to take corrective action if required.
  4. Collate any feedback that has been received from the Student Post-Arrival Appraisal of Agent survey since the last audit and check to see the agent’s performance has been satisfactory. If unsatisfactory performance is discovered, ask them to take corrective action or consider terminating the Agent Agreement as appropriate.
  5. Collate any feedback from University staff (eg the International Admissions team) that has been received since the last audit, and check to see the agent’s performance has been satisfactory. If unsatisfactory performance is discovered, ask them to take corrective action or consider terminating the Agent Agreement as appropriate.
E Monitor semester’s agent data on an ongoing basis Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. At the conclusion of each teaching period, review agent performance data from but not limited to PRISMS, FDL and/or PowerBI against Agent Performance Measures and Agent Compliance Measures as referred to below.
  2. Review feedback from International Student Recruitment team from their agent site visits and other recruitment activities.
  3. Review feedback from the Student Post-Arrival Appraisal of Agent survey as it is received, to determine whether any critical issues have been identified
  4. Review feedback from University staff (eg the International Admissions team) as it is received, to determine whether any critical issues have been identified.
  5. Where the latest data show a concerning trend against any of the relevant metrics, or where critical issues have been identified in student or staff feedback, conduct an in-depth investigation as to the reasons for these trends, as well as the agent’s overall performance over the last few years, to determine whether corrective action and/or termination may be required.
  6. Where an issue has been identified or an Agent Compliance Measure has not been met and a Partner Provider/s recruits students to the University through the same agent, the Coordinator, International Education Agents will advise the Partner Provider/s of the issue or non-compliance and request details of or recommend appropriate corrective actions to be undertaken.
  7. Outcomes of audits and reviews will be communicated to International Student Recruitment staff.
F Provide ongoing feedback on agents International Student Recruitment / Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. International Student Recruitment staff are to notify Coordinator, International Education Agents of any issues identified through regular agent site visits and other recruitment activities.
  2. Coordinator, International Education Agents will notify International Student Recruitment and International Admissions staff of any issues identified through audits and reviews.

Re-appointment of Agent Procedure

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A Conduct an audit of the agent Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Determine which agents are due for re-appointment. The process should begin approximately one month before the existing agreement expires and will include consultation with Manager, International Student Recruitment (or nominee).
  2. Conduct a full agent audit as per above procedure. Refer Agent Auditing and Monitoring Procedure, D-E.
  3. If the agent has met the requirements of the audit, proceed to activities B-J of this procedure. If the agent has not met the requirements, refer to Termination of Agent Procedure.
B Send the Approved Agent Application Form to the agent Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Email the Approved Agent Application Form to the agent, in order to collect the most up-to-date details about the agent. If there are any particular issues arising from the audit, request these be addressed with a written response and/or supporting documentation as required.
C Complete the Approved Agent Application Form Agent
  1. Complete the Approved Agent Application Form, except for providing the three references.
  2. Prepare any written response and/or supporting documentation that may be required.
  3. Email the completed form, response and/or documents to the Coordinator, International Education Agents.
D Review the Approved Agent Application Form and documents Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Review the form and documents to ensure that the agent has adequate infrastructure and arrangements in place to counsel students, and to ensure that they only send genuine students and genuine documents to the University, for each of their proposed recruitment markets.
  2. If these arrangements are in place, proceed with the re-appointment. If not, refer to Termination of Agent Procedure.
E Prepare a new Agent Agreement Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Use details on the Approved Agent Application Form to fill in the relevant sections of the Agent Agreement template. This template will have been prepared in coordination with the University’s Legal team and must be updated as required to include any new Department of Home Affairs or Department of Education, Skills and Employment or University regulations and requirements.
  2. If the existing Agent Agreement has not yet expired by this stage of the re-appointment process, the new Agent Agreement should commence the day after the existing one expires. If it has expired, due to delays in this process, use today’s date.
  3. The term of the agreement should be one year by default. However, trusted agents may be offered longer terms.
  4. The territory should reflect the countries where the agent has offices, or where it can otherwise demonstrate adequate quality control and support measures are in place for the recruitment of students. As agents may open or close offices from time to time, the Coordinator, International Education Agents must ensure that the new agreement reflects up-to-date arrangements.
F Send Agent Agreement PDF to Agent Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Email the Agent Agreement PDF to the agent.
G Sign and return the Agent Agreement Agent
  1. The key contact at the agent (eg the CEO or General Manager) signs the Agent Agreement.
  2. Another staff member witnesses this signature.
  3. Email the signed and witnessed agent agreement back to the Coordinator, International Education Agents.
H Countersign the Agent Agreement Coordinator, International Education Agents; and Manager, International Student Recruitment.
  1. The Manager, International Student Recruitment countersigns the Agent Agreement.
  2. Another staff member, usually the Coordinator, International Education Agents, witnesses this signature.
I Returning the countersigned Agent Agreement to the agent Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Email the countersigned Agent Agreement to the agent.
J Update appropriate files and databases Coordinator, International Education Agents
  1. Upload the countersigned Agent Agreement, Approved Agent Application Form, Agent Reference Check forms, and any other relevant documents, notes or correspondence to the Agent’s SharePoint folder.
  2. Check the list of approved agents in StudyLink to ensure the agent has appropriate access. If there are any issues, email StudyLink to resolve them
  3. Update the Agent Contract tracking spreadsheet in SharePoint with the details of this agent’s agreement, including expiry date.
  4. Check the AscentOne Easy Agent system to ensure that the appropriate locations have been linked with the University (noting that this should reflect the agent’s territories and may not include all locations). Alternately, take other actions as required to ensure the agent is displayed on the public-facing University website.
  5. Check PRISMS to confirm the agent has been linked with the University and that details are up to date.

 

Termination of Agent Procedure

 

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A Send Agent Warning Letter to agent

Manager, International Student Recruitment

Coordinator, International Education Agents

Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee)

  1. If the Manager, International Student Recruitment or Coordinator, International Education Agents believes or suspects that an agent has engaged in unprofessional conduct, or has not met the performance or compliance measures mentioned below, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee) may write to and forward the Agent Warning Letter to the agent.
B Respond to Agent Warning Letter Agent
  1. The agent must provide a written response within ten business days of the date of the letter as specified above.
  2. An extension of time to provide a response may be provided at the discretion of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International.
C Consider the agent’s performance Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee)
  1. After ten business days from the date of the letter, or after the expiration of such further period as may have been granted, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee) may consider the agent’s performance in light of:
    • the response of the agent to the letter;
    • whether the agent engaged in unprofessional conduct; and
    • the considerations contained in any of the performance metrics outlined in this document.
D Take the required action in light of the agent’s performance Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee)
  1. After considering the agent’s conduct and performance, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee) may:
    • require the agent to undertake further training;
    • maintain the agent’s appointment;
    • warn the agent;
    • suspend the agent’s appointment;
    • maintain the agent’s appointment subject to certain conditions; or
    • terminate the agent’s appointment immediately.
  2. The Pro-Vice Chancellor, International must terminate the appointment of an agent if they know or reasonably suspect the agent may have been engaged in unprofessional conduct.
E Disclosure of decision Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee)
  1. Where the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International has made a decision as per activity D above, they may disclose that decision and the reasons for it to other people, organisations, bodies or professional associations, including the agent’s employer. Any disclosure must be made in accordance with the University Privacy Policy.
F Advise relevant parties of the decision to terminate the appointment Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (or nominee)
  1. If the Pro Vice-Chancellor, International or their nominee decides to terminate an agent’s appointment, they or their nominee should:
    • write to the agent to advise that their appointment has been terminated using the Agent Termination Letter;
    • remove the agent from the list of approved agents on the University’s website, and other databases as required including PRISMS;
    • notify International Recruitment, International Admissions, and International Student Compliance staff of the termination of the agent, and advise staff that no further applications are to be accepted from the agent;
    • advise the International Education Committee of the University of the decision, for noting in the minutes of their next meeting; and
    • Advise the Partner Provider/s that applications will no longer be accepted from the agent where a Partner Provider/s also recruits students to the University using the same agent.

Agent Performance Measures

The Agent Performance Measures below are best-practice guidelines for agents. Ultimate decisions on the quality of agent performance may also take into account local conditions in different countries, and/or other factors as determined by the Manager, International Student Recruitment.

  1. Agents should maintain strong application-to-offer conversion rates of 40% or higher.
  2. Agents should maintain strong offer-to-enrolment conversion rates of 30% or higher.
  3. The Manager, International Student Recruitment (or nominee) may choose to set specific targets for numbers of students enrolled by a particular agent, as discussed with the agent and as appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
  4. Where there are mitigating factors that advance the University’s strategic goals, such as building up a new market, building up a new program, or providing a diversity of nationalities, some discretion may be applied to the above targets.

Agent Compliance Measures

All agents, of the University’s own campuses and of Partner Providers, must meet the Agent Compliance Measures below. These override any performance measures listed in this document or elsewhere.

  1. Agents must maintain a visa refusal rate below 10%. Agents will receive a warning if it is observed that their refusal rate has risen above 5%.
  2. Any visa refusal for reasons of fraud will be investigated thoroughly. If the University determines that the agent is encouraging, facilitating, or allowing their students to provide fraudulent documents to the University or to the Department of Home Affairs, the agent’s appointment will be terminated.
  3. Agents must maintain an Incompletion rate below 30%. Agents will receive a warning if it is observed that their Incompletion rate has risen above 20%. Incompletion rates will be calculated from PRISMS data and/or internal Federation University systems such as academic progression data.
  4. Agents must maintain a rate of below 10% of students whose CoE is cancelled for non-payment of fees. Agents will receive a warning if it is observed that the rate has risen above 5%.
  5. Agents must provide accurate and comprehensive information to prospective agents.
  6. Agents must only recruit students in the territories approved in their Agent Agreement.
  7. Where an agent’s low overall student numbers mean that one-off incidents have an outsized impact in percentage terms, discretion may be applied.
  8. Where an agent has received multiple warnings for visa refusals, Incompletions, and/or non-payment of fees, but not reached the threshold for any of these metrics, these combined warnings may still be grounds for termination of the appointment.
  9. Where significant mitigating factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted the students recruited by the agent, leading to a higher Incompletion rate and/or rate of students whose CoE has been cancelled due to non-payment of fees, discretion may be applied.

Supporting Documents

Forms

Responsibility

  • Vice Chancellor (as the Approval Authority) is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this procedure.
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor, International (as the Policy Sponsor) is responsible for maintaining the content of this procedure as delegated by the Vice Chancellor.
  • Policy Editor: Coordinator, International Education Agents

Promulgation

This procedure will be communicated throughout the University community via:

  1. A FedNews announcement and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the University’s Policy Central website.
  2. Distribution of e-mails to all current agents of the University.
  3. Notification to University staff in the International department.

Implementation

This procedure will be implemented throughout the University via:

  1. A FedNews announcement and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the University’s Policy Central website.
  2. Staff induction sessions.
  3. Training sessions.

Records Management

DOCUMENT TITLE LOCATION RESPONSIBLE OFFICER MINIMUM RETENTION PERIOD
Approved Agent Application Form Agent file on SharePoint Coordinator, International Education Agents Seven years after contract has expired or been terminated
Agent Reference Check Form Agent file on SharePoint Coordinator, International Education Agents Seven years after contract has expired or been terminated
Agent Agreement Agent file on SharePoint Coordinator, International Education Agents Seven years after contract has expired or been terminated
Agent Audit Form Agent file on SharePoint Coordinator, International Education Agents Seven years after contract has expired or been terminated
Agent Warning Letter Agent file on SharePoint Coordinator, International Education Agents Seven years after contract has expired or been terminated
Agent Termination Letter Agent file on SharePoint Coordinator, International Education Agents Seven years after contract has expired or been terminated
Investigation communications to and from agents addressing compliance concerns    Agent file on SharePoint Coordinator, International Education Agents Seven years after contract has expired or been terminated