The UK's higher education relationship with Africa has changed in recent years. Past associations of developmental cooperation have been superseded by market-based student recruitment seeking income for UK universities. This paper is about assessing a form of recruitment that helps underpin this new relationship: the agent/commission model. It identifies the nature of this approach to recruitment, and the processes involved. The paper also asks who benefits from the agent/commission model. The research captured a ‘snapshot’ of opinion within a case study UK university, seeking the views of agents themselves and their service users. It was found that all these actors considered the work of agents to be of value. There are certainly flaws in the agent/commission model, and wider societal implications for African states and economies, but it is suggested that agents should be given more credit for the work that they do than is presently reflected in the current literature.