An example graph from a institution's agent report. Source - Department of Education and Training
Australia to share performance data on agents

Australia's Department of Education and Training (DET) has announced a new initiative that will allow providers to view and compare data collected on agents, a move that the Department said would see the majority of agents recognised for their high standards and levels of service.

Since 2012, the department's Provider Registration and International Management System (PRISMS) has enabled institutions to record the involvement of an agent in enrolling an international student.


DET said it was "reviewing the data and developing institution-based reports on the student enrolment outcomes achieved by the institutions' agents, to assist institutions to assess the performance of their agents".


The government said the project was part of ongoing work to ensure that schools work with agents who meet the ethical standards set out in the National Code for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students.


"This work aims to acknowledge the valuable role played by international education agents and acknowledge the good performance achieved by the majority of agents," DET added.


The reports will include data on whether a student transferred to another provider, whether a student's registration was terminated by the institution (for issues such as non-payment or discipline); non-compliance with course or attendance requirements; and deferment/suspension. An example report is posted on the DET website.


In order to access the reports, providers will need to have notified their agents and update their agency agreements to include an appropriate clause explaining that enrolment data will be gathered and analysed by DET.


In a circular newsletter to member language schools, English Australia highlighted that the service is an 'opt-out' process; when an agent does not actively say that they don't want their data to be shared, they will be considered to have approved. 


"Education agents are an important part of the Australian international education industry.  Almost all are valued and respected by Australian education institutions and the students they assist to enrol and study in Australia," said DET.


The department said the initiative to disclose the outcomes of students by the agent they are associated with was "the first of its kind in the world and will see quality agents recognised for their high standards and levels of service".


The project was coordinated by the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) and chaired by English Australia CEO, Brett Blacker. Approximately 1.2 million registrations have been entered in PRISMS, with around 74 per cent containing agency details, said English Australia in its update.


In the short-term, the project will be sharing information directly with providers, but once a critical mass of consenting agents has been reached, DET will potentially share agent-based reports.


English Australia said, "It is notable that DET have revealed that the data so far supports the view that vast majority of the agents recruiting students to Australia play a valuable role ensuring excellent student and provider outcomes. This new capability will empower providers to more actively manage the minority who do not."


The association urged its members to approach their agent network to obtain waivers.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor