The Boarding Schools’ Association has launched a new agent certification scheme to help boarding schools ensure they are working with agents who have the “highest standards” in recruitment, safeguarding and student placement.
As part of the scheme, agents will receive regular updates from BSA on training, changes to legislation (including UKVI). They will also sign up to a code of conduct.
“By introducing a certified scheme we aim to provide reassurance and a kitemark of excellence to students”
BSA is the largest association of boarding schools in the world and represents more than 600 independent and state boarding schools, over 500 of which are based in the UK.
“The BSA Certified Agent Scheme has been designed for education consultants and agents who are seeking valuable accreditation and a kitemark of quality,” said Aileen Kane, chief operating officer at BSA.
“In addition to this, the scheme provides unrivalled access to every UK boarding school and the greater BSA membership.
“Safeguarding is the number one priority for all boarding schools, and we designed the BSA Certified Agent Scheme with this in mind.
“By introducing a certified scheme we aim to provide reassurance and a kitemark of excellence to students coming to study at our schools,” she added.
Kane explained that BSA certification will provide agents with the necessary tools and information required to be the “best of the best” when it comes to student recruitment.
“BSA will provide training and updates on UKVI, boarding school standards and safeguarding legislation. Our schools will also benefit from the scheme as it will provide a definitive list of reliable, well-trained and assessed agents with which to partner,” she added.
The BSA code of conduct has 17 points that agents are required to follow. These rules include agencies having to have a good knowledge of the visa application process and an ability to provide support with UKVI paperwork.
The rules also require agents to ensure that any overseas pupil introduced to a school has a guardian arrangement in place with the UK who will take responsibility for the pupil during exeats and other holidays and organise or facilitate travel arrangements to and from the school.
In 2019, Robin Fletcher, chief executive at the BSA, argued for a review of the Department for Education’s minimum standards for boarding schools.
“At the moment, schools do not have to get involved directly in [the] guardianship area, and a lot of schools do not, and leave it to parents to get a guardian.
“Not all schools even recommend using an AEGIS accredited guardian,” he told delegates at the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students conference in Birmingham.
The BSA Certified Agent Scheme costs £3,000 to register plus £250 membership per year, which includes registration for three years and a host of other benefits.