US: Australian recruiter signs up US universities

One of the world's biggest student recruitment companies, IDP Education, has just recruited 11 US institutions as customers of its international student placement services. The Australian-based firm is jointly owned by 38 Australian universities, is a leading online recruitment company and is one-third owner of the IELTS English proficiency testing system with the British Council and Cambridge University.

IDP Education has a wide network of 70 counselling centres in 24 countries to recruit for Australian universities. The company announced in May it would begin a global expansion led by the move into the US and began recruiting partners in September. A spokesman said that with 11 'charter partners' having signed up, attitudes appeared to be changing in the US where international enrolment "is being viewed with new importance".

"As the number of traditional college students drops and overseas institutions advance their recruiting efforts, US universities face unprecedented competition that, if left unchecked, could lead to another iconic American industry succumbing to foreign competition," said Mark Shay, North American Director of IDP Education.

"Our charter partners are being proactive in working to compete for students worldwide.

"They offer a wealth of academic and life choices for our students, and we are proud to have earned their trust as partners and to be their support overseas."

Michael Metcalf, Associate Provost for International Affairs at the University of Mississippi, said his university had strengthened its international profile considerably over the past decade and looked forward "to a new era of intensified activity" with IDP.

"Partnering with IDP Education is the first time we have utilised a recruiting agency in addressing our desire to increase international enrolment," Metcalf said. "As a member of the American International Recruitment Council, we are confident that IDP Education will be certified by that body and impressed by the firm's history in service to Australian universities."

IDP will begin recruiting students from India first before expanding to an additional 21 countries throughout Asia and the Middle East. The company says its operations differ from that of traditional agents, as its professionally-trained employees counsel for a variety of institution types to provide "honest, informed guidance on what will best lead to a student's academic success and achievement of career goals".

India's population has a median age of little more than 25 years and an increasing number see higher education as critical to securing economic success. IDP estimates that 1 million foreign students will be studying in the US within five years.