In July of 2019, WholeRen was successfully recertified by The American International Recruitment Council (AIRC). The American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership association recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as a Standards Development Organization (SDO).
Founded in 2008 by senior U.S. education leaders, AIRC serves to ensure that international students and the enrolling institutions follow ethical, standards-based international recruitment strategies. An AIRC certification for agencies such as WholeRen not only assures U.S. colleges and universities that WholeRen has all its internal records and standard practices reviewed, but that the staff is knowledgeable about all aspects of international education.
Per AIRC: “To achieve AIRC Certification, an agency has successfully undergone a rigorous self-evaluation and external review process based on the AIRC Certification Standards which, in turn, evaluate the agency’s business practices, and the effectiveness of the services rendered in recruiting qualified students to accredited educational institutions in the United States of America.”
WholeRen Education was the first US-based agency that assists with placement of Chinese students from the US and China to receive AIRC Certification in 2014. Initial certifications are for a period of five years, and re-certification can be five or 10 years, depending on the external review.
The recertification process began internally at WholeRen in January 2019. WholeRen consultants were each tasked with the review of the AIRC training manual in order to ensure they were up to date on the standards and expectations of AIRC. As a part of this process, staff was assessed regularly by senior management of WholeRen. Assessments included testing knowledge of such disparate topics as Carnegie classifications, differences in undergraduate versus graduate school application process, SEVIS fees, visa preparation and ethical behaviors in counseling students. In addition, a confidential 100+ page report was compiled for AIRC to review, including internal training sessions, student contracts, institutional agreements, financial documents, consultant resumes, marketing materials/methods, staff policies (e.g., ethical standards), and internal processes (e.g., customer service operations, refund policies). Staff members from the Chengu and Los Angeles area offices were remotely interviewed by one of the AIRC external reviewers in June 2019. In mid-July 2019, AIRC’s external reviewer (a senior official at a large U.S. post-secondary institution) traveled to WholeRen’s Pittsburgh, PA headquarters to meet with staff for a full day.
Beginning at 9 a.m and lasting the entire day, the external reviewer met with every department involved in the WholeRen recruitment process — including senior management (WholeRen President Brian White and CEO Andrew Chen), marketing, human resources, accounting, strategic initiatives, academic support, and recruitment counselors. AIRC’s external reviewer was on-site in order to assess the professionalism of the office environment, including checking to see how WholeRen properly stores and locks confidential documents (in a secure database and/or in locked, secure room) along with the space available for staff to meet with students both in-person and remotely. The goal of the external review was to ensure that proper methods were taken by all of WholeRen in best serving its student and institutional client base.
The external reviewer commented on the excellent knowledge level of WholeRen’s consultants, along with the ease in which they discussed recruitment methods and student needs. She commented on the energy and vitality of WholeRen’s consultant team, who shared laughs with her during the process — a testament to the ease and confidence with which our staff conducts themselves. WholeRen’s confidential 100+ page report was called incredibly well-organized and impressive by the external reviewer; anecdotally, she shared that the AIRC certification staff member had agreed with this as well. WholeRen’s ability to organize the day for the external reviewer was a testament to our professionalism, and the reviewer was able to efficiently manage the site visit given WholeRen staff had all their documents well-organized and prepared for review.
After the external review day, the reviewer submitted a report of her visit to AIRC. AIRC confirmed details with WholeRen and then the report was submitted to the AIRC Board of Directors for a vote. Within two weeks, WholeRen received notice that we were successfully re-certified for the full 10 year period through 2029, indicating WholeRen continues to stand as a recruitment agency with knowledgeable staff, professional operations, and ethical standards to best guide students in their search for study abroad options.