Following claims from a number of Chinese international students of negative experiences with the Concordia China Student Recruitment Partner Program that came up towards the end of 2012, the administration has created a plan to move forward.
Notably, the university will be severing ties with Orchard Consultants Ltd., a company contracted by Concordia to recruit prospective students in China. The company, which was mandated to represent the university overseas, has drawn criticism as allegations of mistreatment have continued to emerge regarding the head of Orchard Consultants Ltd. and director of the CCSRPP, Peter Low.
This information initially came to light in an article published in The Link on Sept. 25.
Concordia VP Services Roger Côté told The Concordian that the “university undertook a review of interactions” in order to better understand how to improve its practices.
Côté explained that the university’s contract with Orchard would be extended until Feb. 28 so that all open files can be completed and transferred to Concordia. Following that, Orchard will no longer represent Concordia nor will it be recruiting any new applicants.
According to Côté, the focus of the new plan will be to “engage early and immediately with students.” He explained that this change came about as a result of the university administration’s realization that they needed to be more directly involved in the process.
“Over the past few months we felt we had to work alongside students more closely,” said Côté.
The so-called “blended approach” will include both internal and external recruitment strategies. This combination of on-site as well as virtual recruitment efforts will mean an increase in resources such as communication materials and staff who will recruit on behalf of the university.
Côté explained that contact with international students will be made much earlier and that it will be a priority to ensure they have all the information necessary for their transition.
The university also plans to use existing assets to bring recruitment closer to Concordia.
“We are going to hire our own students to help us,” said Côté.
Part-time e-recruiter positions will be created in order for current students to establish contact with prospective ones and create an “opportunity for student-to-student interaction.”
Once Orchard Consultants Ltd. is out of the picture, the university intends to send out a request for proposals from other agencies. Before that, Côté explained, a new set of requirements would be created with the help of several groups within the community.
“I have indicated to student leaders that I would like their input,” said Côté, referring to representatives from the Concordia Student Union and the Graduate Student Association.
CSU President Schubert Laforest said he was happy to see the university taking charge of the situation, calling the move “a step in the right direction.”
He noted that his priority would be finding a company that will act in the best interests of students.
“We really appreciate being included in the making of request requirements,” said Laforest.
He went on to say that the idea of hiring Concordia students to facilitate peer-to-peer recruitment was a positive change and that “nothing really beats having another student who is dedicated to you. It’s a more personal touch.”
The university’s working group headed by Dean of Students Andrew Woodall, which focused specifically on the issue of homestay and off-campus housing for international students, presented a list of recommendations to university administration. Côté confirmed that some of the proposed changes on the list were already being adopted to ensure the most accessible and clear information be put forth.