USING AGENTS FOR 2+2 ARTICULATION AGREEMENTS – Yes or No?
We have found that recently, Chinese agents are much more interested in discussing articulation agreements rather than high school recruitment efforts. Has anyone else noticed this trend? Here are my thoughts and advice to institutions who have not yet used agents to establish 2+2 articulation agreements.
Almost all of our articulation transfer agreements were initiated by our Chinese agents. In some cases, we have found that it does allow some processes to go quicker, as the agents have relationships and contacts within the foreign university. This allows us to set up some wonderful potential partnerships. After the articulation agreement, sometimes we run into communication conundrums – for example, who is considered the primary contact, the agent or the university? Some universities have hinted that they would be happy to correspond with us directly after we sign the agreement. Others seem very content to have the agent be the intermediary (particularly the ones without strong international offices and fluent English speakers).
Try to envision what happens after the articulation agreement, and to talk this over with your agent well in advance and to give your own terms. It is much better to plan ahead rather than have uncomfortable miscommunication later. Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself during the process. There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s good to proactively manage potential conflicts or misunderstandings.
Can your agent be the introductory party but agree to allow correspondence with the university directly after a certain period of time? When exactly will the university–><–agent–><–university relationship end?
Can you request applications to be sent directly from the university, while agreeing to give credit to the agent? Or will the agent be responsible for submitting all applications?
Will you pay commission to the agent for students for only a certain number of years?
Can you insist that both the agent and the foreign university must be copied on correspondence, even if the agent takes responsibility for following up with the foreign university (so you know that your message is being delivered exactly in the manner you wish)?
Once the articulation agreement is signed, will the agent be undertaking recruitment sessions on your behalf to encourage students to transfer to your school (which justifies a commission payment) – i.e., the agent should motivate you to include them?
Does your articulation agreement set forth clearly the requirements for admission? Is the university or agent expecting 100% application success rate if the minimum requirements are met? Will the agent encounter pressure from the foreign university if transfer students are rejected from the American university?
Although you have an articulation agreement, what process will be used so that incoming students are aware of their transferred credits? For instance, we had certain students who were never reminded by the agent/transfer university that only “C” grades or higher transfer. They were simply told “Oh yes, the American university will take all your credits.” Now we send a statement of transferred courses to the students ahead of time and tell them they cannot dispute the credits after arrival.
A cautionary tale..I have found that limiting conversations to only the agent has impacted my relationship with the transfer universities – when I visit the transfer universities, we both find ourselves a little unfamiliar with each other’s policies and campus culture, and each other’s staff, because we haven’t been cultivating a relationship over the past year through email and other channels. This is one of my regrets of having too much agent involvement. Our university has a certain campus culture and a certain type of student who really excels here, and I do not have confidence in certain agents to represent our “brand” in such detail. However, due to the cultural significance of a middleman facilitator in China, I am very grateful for the hard work our agents have done in helping us set up successful relationships with Chinese universities. The suggestions above come from hindsight and these efforts. experiences with trailblazing
A best practice would be to ask the agent for the reference of an American university with whom they have helped set up articulation agreements in the past. Then you can get a feel for how your colleagues in the field viewed their professionalism, availability, the articulation process, and so forth.
I would also be interested in hearing from other universities who have the same issues or experiences. If you’d like to contribute an article or contrary viewpoint, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to have you as a guest writer!