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Recruiters Help US Colleges Find Foreign Students

Placement companies may be paid by colleges or students -- or both, raising concerns about possible conflicts of interest. First of two parts. Transcript of radio broadcast

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

College prices in the United States have been rising faster than other prices for thirty years or more. Recently many of the nation's top colleges have agreed to increase their financial aid.

But one group often has to pay the full price for college: foreign students. This may help explain why colleges are making greater efforts to recruit them.

Large universities are likely to use their own representatives. But smaller schools may work with independent recruiters.

An example is Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania.

It has about one hundred foreign students, mostly from Asia. It offers foreign students a savings of one-fifth off its published price if they apply through Study Group Holdings.

This placement company operates the Web site

Albright's international student counselor, Nicole Christie, says the company is paid from the money that the students pay the college. Study Group looks for qualified students and rates their English skills before they apply.

But foreign students themselves often pay recruiters. The recruiters help them write applications, get recommendation letters and prepare for admissions tests. And they might help students prepare for getting a visa to study in the United States.

Recruiters can also work for both students and colleges. Some education officials call this a conflict of interest. They wonder how recruiters can find a school that is truly right for a student when certain colleges are paying them. Officials also warn that like any other business, there is a risk of dishonesty.

Recruiters say they provide a useful service that is legal in the United States. They say the colleges they work for are accredited and provide a good education but may not be widely known.

Recruiting of foreign students has been the subject of recent stories in the Chronicle of Higher Education and in the New York Times.

We are interested in hearing about experiences with college recruiters. Send us your comments and we may use them in a future report. Write to and please include your name and country.

We'll have more on this subject next week. So write to We also have our Foreign Student Series online with information about how to get into an American college. Go to and click on the link at the bottom of the page.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Jim Tedder.