Challenges of International Student Recruitment Agencies in Iran

Document Type : Call for Special Issue on "Migration Policy"


In recent years, recruiting international students has become a strategic issue. International students have social, economic, political, cultural, and scientific benefits, and they improve the quality of higher education. Leading countries create the conditions for attracting and retaining students and talent by aligning and cohering policies, increasing actors, and establishing institutions. "Recruitment agencies" are one of these players. These agencies have a large network in various countries and are familiar with the higher education systems of the destination countries, providing useful information to future students and assisting them in selecting the appropriate university. They also assist the university in attracting qualified applicants. While increasing international student recruitment is the goal of higher education in Iran, the capacity of institutions for recruiting students has been underutilized, and their activity has been fraught with difficulties. This research aimed to identify the challenges of recruitment agency activities in Iran. Using the "thematic analysis" method, we discovered twelve challenges categorized into four categories: structural challenges (lack of appropriate policies and laws; lack of sufficient actors; multiple decision makers); contextual challenges (economic, cultural, and social); procedural challenges (incorrect executive procedures; incompetence of executive actors; misconduct and corruption in recruitment processes); and also content challenges (linguistic barriers; limited and low-quality educational programs; limited international cooperation). Finally, solutions and policy recommendations for better utilizing the recruiting institutions' capacities were presented.


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