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US Amends ‘Thrive Act’ Agent Law Allowing Academic Institutions To Use Commission Based Agents

Institutions of higher learning that were previously prohibited from utilizing commission-based brokers to recruit international students are now able to do so following an adjustment to the legislation.

When the THRIVE Act was signed into law in June 2020, stakeholders claimed that an unforeseen effect was that the payment of commissions to agents was prohibited if universities received funds under the GI Bill.

International education organizations such as the American Council on Education, NAFSA, and the American International Recruitment Council lobbied for bill modifications to assure that institutions may continue to work with commission-based agencies to recruit students.

Proposals to “fix” the ban were introduced in October, and the Senate passed them in early December. Stakeholders pushed for similar language to the 1965 Higher Education Act, which allows for the use of incentive compensation to recruit overseas students, to be included in the THRIVE Act.

After President Biden signed the technical modifications bill in late December, the required phrase was inserted.

“The REMOTE Act restores the ability of US higher education institutions to both serve military veterans and recruit international students utilizing incentive-based compensation agreements,” said Esther D. Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA.

During a time when foreign student enrollment in the United States is already declining and other nations are making progress in drawing international talent, the United States can ill afford to limit the instruments available to higher education institutions for enrolling international students.

According to AIRC’s Brian Whalen, the REMOTE Act authorizes colleges that accept GI Bill assistance to reimburse educational organizations for overseas student recruiting through commission-based payments. This restores a key recruitment tool to universities at a time when the United States is attempting to attract and enrol a higher number of overseas students.

AIRC member institutions and agencies have contributed to the law’s modification “in a rather short period of time,” Brain noted.

“As we approach 2022, let us be grateful for our progress and hopeful for brighter days ahead.”

Agencies were worried about the situation, with Abhijit Zaveri, managing director of India-based Career Mosaic, declaring in September that “without agents, recruiting can’t operate any longer for overseas students.”

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