Trading places: The role of agents in international student recruitment from Africa

M. Hulme, Alexander Thomson, R. Hulme, G. Doughty

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    26 Citations (Scopus)


    As state subsidies to higher education contract, the recruitment of international students is becoming a strategic priority for many UK universities. Academic roles are reconfigured as the commercialisation of higher education and the commodification of education services re-position the student as consumer, academic as entrepreneur, and university as 'marketer' (Slaughter and Rhoades 2009). Despite rapid growth in the number of students and universities using external third-party recruitment agents, little research has been undertaken on the work of agents and the relationships between agents, institutions and students. Drawing on a case study of one UK higher education institution conducted in May-June 2012, this paper considers the role and experiences of the principal actors in this economised relationship: educational consultants/recruitment agents operating in the sub-Saharan African market, university international officers (UK-based and offshore), faculty and international students. The paper considers the position and role of education brokers (within public and for-profit contexts) in the international higher education market. Whilst these actors pursue common activity in linking students with providers, they differ in terms of rationale and stance. Although internationalisation presents opportunities for enhanced revenue, questions of 'value' raise important educational and ethical issues for universities as they develop collaborative ventures in emerging markets.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)674-689
    JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    The full text of this item is not available from the repository.
    This is an electronic version of an article published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education, 38 (5), pp. 674-689. The Journal of Further and Higher Education is available online at: .


    • education brokers
    • entrepreneurialism
    • globalisation
    • international education


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