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New code of ethics for international student recruitment

New code of ethics for international student recruitment

Australia is one of several English-speaking nations that have now formally declared a new ethical framework that will regulate the recruitment of international students.

Known as the London Statement, the new joint statement of principles has been agreed by education officials from Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand and sets out clear guidance for academic institutions and educational agents recruiting international students, including details on international student visa applications.

The first principle emphasises the importance of responsible business ethics and clarifies that agents and consultants refrain "from being party to any attempt by students or others to engage in fraudulent visa applications".

Other principles include greater collaboration between agents, consultants and destination countries to improve ethical standards, action to protect the interests of minors and the provision of honest, accurate and current information.

Many agents who recruit international students to schools, colleges and universities are commission-based, according to a joint statement from the British Council and the Australian government. When even a small number of these consultants and agents act unethically or illegally, both students and academic institutions can suffer.

"It is important that the reputation and integrity of international education continues to be held in high regard. We must ensure that international students receive advice which will enable them to have high quality educational experiences," said Colin Walters, chief executive officer of Australian Education International.

His remarks were echoed by British Council director of higher education Pat Killingley, who said the framework will encourage good practice among student recruitment agents and support international collaboration.

She said: "This work has brought about a landmark joint statement between four countries, which should help international students get sound advice and information as they decide where to study."

However, Jonathan Granger, who operates an education and migration consultancy in Sydney, told The Australian last week that while the London Statement presents a number of worthwhile considerations, the key will be for regulations and standards to be enforced by governments.

One strategy, he suggested, would be for federal bodies to declare that they will not accept student visa applications that have been prepared by unregistered offshore migration agents.

The London Statement was drafted in mid-March and the international code of ethics was formally declared in a joint statement on April 26.

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