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AIRC at Five Thoughts From Our Members











December, 2013 AIRC Colleagues: All of us on the AIRC staff feel privileged to be part of this dynamic organization. On the occasion of AIRC’s Fifth Anniversary Conference we asked long time AIRC members for their thoughts. This testimonial document is the result. We would value hearing from any of you who are not included. Please send similar thoughts to me at which we will post on our website following the conference. This document is a companion piece to a history of AIRC created by Mitch Leventhal and Joe Rota-two of AIRC’s founders. A web version of that history can be found at Many thanks for your continuing support. John Deupree, Executive Director Jennifer Wright, Associate Director for Certification and Operations Melody Buckholt, Member Support Coordinator Judy Irwin, Senior Outreach Specialist Chris Telling, Senior Technology Officer


Member Testimonials From The Founders... In five short years, AIRC has become the leading exponent for reform and professionalization of international student recruitment. AIRC has demonstrated that industry self-regulation in higher education can be an effective force for consumer protection, and that even competing institutions can work together for the common good, within countries and across boundaries.

-- Mitch Leventhal

Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs State University of New York

-- George C. Burke Fulbright Advisor Cleveland State University

The first five years has truly changed the conversation among universities in the U.S. and has brought credibility of the use of professionally trained agents. AIRC has taken what was being done undercover to an acceptable strategy among many institutions and organizations. It has also set aspirational standards for agents. My vision for the future of AIRC is that it will be recognized as the standard bearer organization for all facets of international student recruitment. AIRC will always espouse that whatever method of recruitment is being used, it will stress that the outcome is first and foremost about informing students and their parents to make a good decision as where the student will pursue their educational goals. The AIRC logo will be seen as the stamp of approval for both higher education institutions and for representatives and advising agencies. The second part of my vision for the next five years, is that AIRC will become the organization which institutions from around the world rely upon to support their recruitment efforts. AIRC will have at least one board member representing a non-U.S. Higher Education institution. As Associate Provost for International Affairs at Ohio University, I was asked in 2005 to develop a plan for international student recruitment. We realized that traditional recruitment methods missed the most productive tool: rigorously vetted recruiting agencies. Once we engaged them, international student enrollment increased 58% in three years. Given widespread opposition to agents and the mistaken perception that this was illegal, more than state-wide support was obviously needed. Under Mitch Leventhal’s leadership, we developed an organization to legitimize and professionalize international student recruitment, particularly the use of agents. In 2008, George Burke, Mitch and I signed the documents creating AIRC. In spite of our optimism, I did not anticipate that five years later we would celebrate the founding of AIRC with 216 institutional members and 61 agencies. The success of AIRC astonishes me. International students are of critical national importance, strategically and because of their financial benefits and contribution to diversity and other educational priorities. Given the highly competitive international student mobility market and the complexity of American higher education, use of agents is a must. Our competitors use them. But we must ensure that agencies, and the American universities themselves, adhere to the highest ethical principles and professional practices. This is the mission and the invaluable contribution of AIRC.

-- Josep Rota Associate Provost Emeritus for International Studies and Professor Emeritus of Communication Ohio University


Member Testimonials Cont.

-- Marcus Badde CEO ICEF

Since its founding, AIRC has created a real community of U.S. higher education institutions dedicated to proven standards in international student recruitment. In my opinion, the continual exchange of ideas amongst current members, and the welcoming and education of potential new members, have accelerated the professionalism in the industry. AIRC’s outstanding advocacy efforts in supporting and legitimizing the use of certified education agents has been well-received nationand industry-wide and has definitely changed the playing field.

When we decided to form Access American Education, LLC (AAE) in 2008, our overriding goal was to do well and do good at the same time. We quickly learned that AIRC had recently been formed to professionalize an industry which had little legitimacy in the United States. Upon reading the AIRC standards, and learning about the certification process, we decided to organize our company, from day one, to be AIRC compliant – and to our knowledge, we are the only company in the world which can make this claim. All systems and operations put in place at AAE have taken AIRC standards into account. AIRC’s attention to ethics and transparent business practice has been a fantastic roadmap for us in our earliest days, and continue to be core to our business. Our AIRC certification has opened many doors for us, even at institutions that are not members and were hesitant to use our services. AIRC certification is an indication of significant commitment and quality. While the recent NACAC ruling is a giant step in the right direction, our hope is that institutions will, in time, make AIRC certification a pre-requisite for business, since our certification protects their interests, as well as those of the students. -- Brad Wertheimer Managing Member Access American Education, LLC


For the past five years, AIRC has provided an outstanding opportunity for agencies, colleges, and universities to work together under a standard ethical framework that focuses on student success. Our institution has furthered its engagement in- and commitment to- campus globalization in recent years and it is clear that AIRC has been a major contributor to our success by providing us opportunities that would otherwise not be available to small institutions such as Upper Iowa University. So in essence, celebrating the success of AIRC is celebrating the success of Upper Iowa University. -- Ismael J. Betancourt Vice President for International Education Upper Iowa University

On AIRC’s 5th Anniversary. Congratulations!!!!! From Team SIEC. I have seen AIRC grow from a relatively unknown entity in 2010, to an organization that has become a force to reckon with in the area of international student recruitment. Through its high standards, social responsibility and its transparent and inclusive processes, the momentum of success was driven from within, which has found acclaim and recognition globally over the last 5 years. The murky world of international student recruitment was filled with mistrust and cynicism. The good, the bad and the worse were all Agents. There was no point of differentiation, no recognition and no respect before AIRC created that differentiation. As founder of SIEC, those standards became my driving force to join AIRC. My aim was to find prestige and reputation for my company. AIRC over the years provided that platform and the standards that made us strong, enabling us to attract the best talent in the industry which led to further expansion and growth for our business. Next 5 years should see global institutions queuing up to join AIRC making it one of the most powerful opinion makers in international student recruitment.

-- Sonya Singh Managing Director SIEC PTY LTD

-- Stephen Foster AIRC Chair and President Associate Vice President for International Affairs Wright State University

Wright State University (WSU) has been an AIRC member since its inception five years ago, a membership that has been particularly valuable in advancing WSU’s international mission. It is truly remarkable to look back at AIRC‘s phenomenal growth and maturity as a standards development organization, but even more the positive impact it has made internationally in providing ethical standards to guide the important work of recruiting international students to U.S. institutions of higher education. AIRC is a unique organization in its practical contributions for dealing with the challenges of international student mobility, and it serves as a model for 21st century collaborative learning communities.

AIRC has done a remarkable job of changing the conversation about the use of agents in international student recruitment. In five short years AIRC has gone from a “good idea” to a respected, independent, standardssetting organization to which reputable agencies around the world feel a need to belong. Having been certified with the initial group in 2009, WEgroup has benefited greatly from the rising importance of AIRC certification in the marketplace. At first, we were the ones bringing up our AIRC certification as our badge of integrity and professionalism. Now, universities approach us BECAUSE we are AIRCcertified! NACAC’s recent decision to not prohibit its members from using agents illustrates the effectiveness of AIRC’s leadership in understanding the importance of setting forth a persuasive case while maintaining its own professionalism and integrity. I’m proud that WEgroup is AIRC-certified.

-- Richard W. Ferrin

President and Chief Executive Officer World Education Group, LLC


AIRC Milestones 2008-2013

"AIRC Idea" Standards Emerges

Approved by AIRC Members

Bangkok Executive Meeting Validates Concept



Committee Formed

Board Established


Agencies Certified

1st Official

1st Annual



Institutional Member

8 Pilot

Process Developed

AIRC Meeting


Director Hired




AIRC Today 221 61

Certified Agencies 6


Certification Process Reviewed by Steve Crow



Pathway Partners

Standards Revision Adopted



Affiliated Institutions

Elected 5th Year

Board Completed




Membership Added

Certified Agencies

Institutional member





Member Testimonials Cont. At California State University, Long Beach, our strategic plan calls for doubling the international student population in the next 5 years. To achieve this goal we have devised a comprehensive recruitment plan in which use of agencies is only one of many strategies we utilize for international student recruitment. For the most part, our recruitment activities are carried out by our own staff. But we realize it is not only expensive to send staff everywhere around the world; we also feel that it is ineffective. Selection and use of a well-informed and qualified agency is an important element of our recruitment strategy and we feel it maximizes our resources. When we select an agency we stress the standards set by the American International Recruitment Council. AIRC certification provides us an assurance that the agencies have already gone through a rigorous vetting process. With the agency approach we are already seeing positive results, both in terms of the quality and number of students we are getting. -- Jeet Joshee Associate Vice President and Dean International Education and Global Engagement California State University, Long Beach Green River Community College is proud to have been a charter member of AIRC when it was founded in 2008. We strongly support the use of ethical and knowledgeable recruitment agencies to recruit qualified students who can best benefit from the educational services we can provide. We were happy to join an organization dedicated to setting high recruitment standards for agencies and institutions alike, and continue to support its mission. The organization played an important part in the recent discussions on commission-based agency use among U.S. institutions. Two AIRC members (I was one) participated in the two-year deliberations of the NACAC Commission appointed to study the matter, and helped craft a -- Ross Jennings result that allows commission-based agency recruitment if conducted Vice President, International transparently and ethically. Programs and Extended Learning Green River Community College Like any growing organization, constant improvement and sharpening of benefits are necessary. AIRC is in the process of clarifying its value proposition to agencies and institutions, to provide more tangible benefits to both. I am confident that AIRC will continue to evolve and improve, and become an ever stronger voice for effective and ethical recruitment of international students.

The University of Cincinnati (UC) was the first major research university in the U.S. to openly adopt agency-based international student recruiting as a strategy, and did so while simultaneously leading a national movement for industry standards. As one of the founding members of the organization, UC is proud of the role we have been able to play in helping to establish the AIRC as the leading professional organization for best practices and industry standards for recruiting internationally. We have seen the AIRC grow from the original three founding members (UC, Ohio University, and Cleveland State University) to over 230 institutional members with 61 certified agencies. As the industry discussion shifts to themes of Accountability, Integrity, and Transparency, I know that the AIRC will lead the way. I am confident that over the next few years that the AIRC will be viewed as one of the premier international education organizations. -- Ron Cushing Director, International Services University of Cincinnati


Global Reach is one of the very few agencies that was included in the pilot and it is a delight to see it [AIRC] having grown to such a level already. As we say that the first five years of life require more hand-holding and thereafter a baby becomes ready for regular schooling and life. Similarly, AIRC will continue to grow now and gather momentum. Several of the hurdles have been cleared. I clearly remember the brainstorming session in Bangkok with Mitch and a few others. I clearly remember doing the groundwork on agent standards for several countries. I also remember pursuing the various drafts and acting on the committees that led to the establishment of AIRC. The success would lie in its being recognised by top line institutions and by government bodies.

We’ve been fans of AIRC since the early days, and though we are a small school that has used agent-based recruitment only for master’s programs in the School of Management, it is an important part of what we do and is responsible for a substantial stream of tuition revenue for the university. Notably, our success (including managing our relationships with only the best agents) has caught the attention of many others on our campus, who have become “believers.” We gauge our (significant, for our size) agentbased graduate recruitment in the management school as 98% successful. In addition, our international and domestic students, alike, prosper from this increased globalization, and our entire campus and regional community have been greatly enriched.

-- Ravi Lochan Singh

-- Harry Domicone

Managing Director Global Reach

Director, International MBA Program California Lutheran University

AIRC is an organization and community of international educators open to discussing the challenges and opportunities of student mobility as it relates to U.S. higher education institutions. The organization’s leadership was proactive and addressed a gap in the field of international student recruitment during a period of uncertainty, shaming and extreme scrutiny of agents. The present climate towards agency recruitment is tepid, but AIRC continues to be a group of dedicated professionals willing to take part and shape the landscape of inbound international student mobility. During my involvement these past five years, I had the honor of working with instrumental leaders, like the late Marjorie Peace Lenn, a feisty woman whose expertise contributed to the development of a certification process based upon national and international best practices and standards. AIRC is a nascent organization, but it has accomplished much in its mere five years of existence. I look forward to seeing its contributions in the years ahead!

-- Mandy Hansen

Director, International Admissions and Recruitment Associate Director, Center for International Education Northern Arizona University


Member Testimonials Cont.

Dear AIRC, Congratulations on completing the first five years! It seems hard to believe that is was five years ago when I responded to a call from Mitch Leventhal from a hotel in Barajas Airport in the middle of the night and first heard about the initiative to establish a professional standards association to help legitimize the use of paid agents for student recruitment. Without hesitation I pledged the support of ELS Educational Services both as an institution and as a recruiting agent. The U.S. has been a late adopter in establishing the legitimacy of professional agents and managing their role and contribution to international students coming to our universities. AIRC has come a long way in a short time with some big victories but a continuous challenge to prevail. It is incumbent on all members to keep up the full court press in lobbying for the recognition of agents meeting AIRC standards to gain full endorsement by higher education as a whole and every -- Mark W. Harris professional organization purporting to hold student interests President and Chief Executive Officer at heart. ELS Educational Services, Inc.

Happy Anniversary AIRC!

In the past five years, Colorado State University has developed a comprehensive plan to increase international student enrollment at multiple levels, including through formal exchange programs that we have developed, by developing agent relations, with an INTO-Colorado State partnership, and through our own recruiting. Enrollment has shot up 71 percent in that period, and AIRC has brought us peace of mind throughout the five years. We are pleased to be associated with AIRC. Great work and thanks!

-- James A. Cooney Vice Provost for International Affairs Colorado State University

All too often discussions within our institutions and throughout our profession about counseling agents come down to absolutes – reject them or use them. For five years, now, AIRC has added an essential voice for a more sophisticated and successful way forward. The framework of ethical, transparent, and successful recruitment that AIRC has been a leader in developing has made all the difference for students, our institutions, and for the strengthening of the best agencies. We still have much work to do, together, in order to provide the students of the world with the access to higher education they deserve, and we are confident that AIRC will be at the forefront of these efforts in their second five years and beyond.


-- Dane Rowley

Director of Int’l Admission California Lutheran University

-- Pia Wood Associate Provost University of Tennessee, Knoxville

-- Jonathan Weller

Director, International Admissions University of Cincinnati

Over the last 8 years, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) has embarked on an ambitious internationalization plan. International student recruitment along with curriculum infusion, student and faculty exchanges, and strengthening our existing international partnerships and developing new ones are some of the key goals. UTK and its intensive English language program have engaged in a portfolio approach to international recruitment including participating in recruitment fairs, particularly those sponsored by Education USA, visiting high-schools abroad, and developing dual degree programs with our international partners. The American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) has been an invaluable organization as UTK considered whether to engage with recruitment agencies. UTK supports the goals of both NACAC and AIRC which are essentially the same: the welfare of students is the first priority and all educational institutions’ international recruitment methods should demonstrate accountability, transparency, and integrity.

I am very proud of the achievements that AIRC has made over the past five years. I am fortunate to have been working with AIRC since its inception and cannot believe how many accomplishments AIRC has made during this time. Almost immediately, AIRC emerged as the prominent voice in professionalizing the commission-based international student recruitment model. Though it is tempting to simply look at its growth over the past five years – now with nearly 250 university partners and more than 55 accredited agents – to demonstrate its importance in the international higher education arena, such a view is limited. Just as importantly, AIRC has played a significant impact in the lives of thousands of international students who have benefited from working with qualified, reputable, accountable agencies that are assisting the students with enrolling into excellent universities throughout the United States. AIRC is more than simply a listing of agents and universities; it is a shield protecting students from unscrupulous agents in order to help those students achieve their dreams of earning a quality American education.

Back in 2008 an article in The Economist magazine caught my attention. It mentioned a new initiative in the U.S. to create an organization to increase the understanding of the global market for recruitment of students - including the use of agents. This was the first time I heard about AIRC. The initiative attracted me busines- wise as I was already running a growing educational agency in Denmark. But it also provided a natural answer to what for years seemed incomprehensible to me: “What will it take for U.S. institutions to utilize their enormous potential in the international market for education?” In just five years AIRC has already managed to open doors and create a -wealth of new opportunities for U.S. institutions - both those that have joined AIRC and those that for some reason have not yet decided to do so. My hope is that AIRC will continue its focus on quality assurance – to the benefit of U.S. institutions, agents and – most of all – students, who should always be at the center of our endeavours.

Palle Steen Jensen Edupreneur and General Manager EDU


Here’s to Many More Years!

American International Recruitment Council 4710 Rosedale Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814 | 240 547 6400

AIRC at Five - Thoughts From Our Members  
AIRC at Five - Thoughts From Our Members