WKU looks towards new concept of international agents

Enrollment Experiment

One decade ago, President Gary Ransdell began pushing in earnest the internationalization of WKU.

Upon deciding to make international efforts a priority for the university, the question then became: How will WKU recruit on a global stage? In an interview with the Herald, Ransdell said he knew early on it wasn’t practical or feasible to gear up an admissions staff and have them travel the world. This is where agents come in.

Agents are people who represent organizations or firms across the globe who are hired to recruit students for a university. They receive a commission rate, typically a portion of an international student’s first-year tuition, in return for their services.

Agents are nothing new to higher education and are not exclusive to WKU. According to a 2016 report by the Bridge Education Group, 37 percent of U.S. universities and colleges work with international student recruitment agencies.

Brian Meredith, chief enrollment and graduation officer, said WKU has been contracting agents on and off again for the last 15 to 20 years, as long as Ransdell has been president.

“The vast majority of that recruitment is through agents, and then we infuse international recruitment representatives, officers, whatever you want to call them, as best we can,” he said.

Currently, WKU has a personal service contract for international recruitment approved by the Kentucky Government Review Committee from July 1, 2016, to July 30, 2018, through which WKU will pay $900,000.

Now, WKU stands at the altar of a new concept of utilizing agents, a sort of “super agent,” as described by Brian Dinning, budget analyst in International Enrollment Management—a person who can develop and foster relationships with other agents WKU couldn’t coordinate with by itself.

“The theory is that he will be able to develop newer relationships with a lot more agents…and then you’ve got so many more people working for you than we do now,” Dinning said. “Hopefully that will increase enrollment by increasing your number of agents.”

The ‘he,’ Dinning is referring to is Raza Tiwana. Tiwana resigned from his position of chief international officer–global recruitment at WKU on July 31, 2016, according to his personnel file. Tiwana’s resignation, however, was dependent upon a formal signing of an “exclusive recruitment agreement” with the university.

Before his resignation, Tiwana’s salary was $90,000, according to the fiscal year 2015-2016 budgeted salary information. Information pertaining to additional expenses for Tiwana’s job could not be collected before publication.

Thus, this official agreement formed Edezell Consultants Limited on July 21, 2016 with Tiwana serving as Edezell’s principal agent.


Read the full story at wkuherald.com

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