Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Dec 20, 2011

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As more and more international students cross our nation’s borders to pursue a degree at our universities, the motives of foreign student recruiters are being questioned.


Higher education recruiters usually come in the form of an agency or company that is designed specifically for locating students and persuading them to attend a particular institution. Once that student relocates, acquires student loans, and pays the school its costs for tuition, the recruiters get a portion of the check—much like a finder’s fee.


But the problem some are having with recruiting agencies is that they’re sending unqualified individuals back to the States, who, in some cases, cannot even speak English. Then they take on large amounts of debt through the use of student loans and find themselves unable to progress in the programs. This in turn leads the student to dropping out or to forcing them to take out more student loans so they can attend for longer periods of time, hoping they can correct their downward trajectory before the institution itself gives them the boot.


Peggy Blumenthal, an executive vice president at the non-profit institute of International Education, explained to Fox News that recruiting agents “have a very large incentive to deliver a student who may not be the best fit.”


Recruiters typically get cut a check on a head by head basis, so they have no incentive to keep the student’s best interest in mind. Rather, they focus on numbers, as the more students they send back to the States, the higher the chance they have to get a check.


But some universities who use the services of foreign student recruiters come to their support.


According to Fox News, David Meinert, associate dean of Missouri State University’s business school, says university leaders “can focus on developing and delivering curriculum instead of going out and recruiting students and developing individual sponsors.”


Meinert asserts that recruiters are “able to deliver as an intermediary something that we [the university] would have trouble delivering.”


Coinciding with Meinert’s claim, many smaller or local colleges simply don’t have the funding to promote their academics to the world. But with the help of foreign recruiting agencies, they can still get the opportunity to teach foreigners.


But as with all forms of business, some bad apples ruin the bunch. “There are very good recruiters out there who are very solid and do all the right things,” explained George Wolf, vice president of enrollment management at Westminister College, to Fox News. “And then there are recruiters out there just to make a buck.”


So long as foreign students come to America and receive a good education, the student loans they take out can be justified and recruits can carry on with their business. The problem arises when a foreigner takes on massive amounts of student loan debt, is unable to obtain an education, and if forced back to their country in worse off shape than they arrived in.