Category: MOOCs

Five tips for agents looking to expand into the UK

“Make sure that you deliver on your promise. Reputation can be your best asset, or your Achilles heel”

The British Council recognises the usefulness of education agents and consultants, and as well as compiling a database of trustworthy agents for students’ use, it trains agents on best practice and how to operate in the UK. A new tool is now running online to guide professionals through the UK education landscape. 

The Study UK: a Guide for Education Agents, Advisors and Counsellors MOOC, currently open for registration, is free and designed for people interested in starting out in the sector or consolidating their current skills.

Helen Obaje has worked with the British Council for ten years and specialises in the training of agents in the international education sector. She is the designer of a new online course for agents, advisors and counsellors launched by the British Council.

Here are Helen’s top five tips for agents thinking of expanding their business in the UK: 

1.         Keep up to date

Education is not static, nor is it consistent across the UK with different education systems in the country’s different nations. The best agents are those who are consistently in touch with the changes within the areas they operate.

There are a variety of resources from different bodies that can help you keep on top of new regulations and new products: the UK Council for International Student Affairs, StudyUK:Discover You and visa and immigration information from UKVI are among them.

Be sure to stay on top of changes within the institutions that you represent, don’t just assume that because they are your client that you know them inside out. Take advantage of all the support and training that UK institutions provide and keep an eye out for fam trips. These are a great opportunity to get information on the ground so take advantage whenever possible.

2.         Relationships

So much of this job relies on relationships: the ones you have with students, their families and institutions. You need to think long term about what is it that you can do to help build and develop your relationship with the institution you are working with. 

Think about how regularly you keep in touch with people and by what means. There is no replacing quality face to face time, but equally you cannot be everywhere at once, so a balance needs to be struck.

3.         Do you fit?

We are all clear on the importance of matching the student to the right institution and course, but this also applies to agencies. Why should an institution work with you and what do you bring to the table? You need to be able to help the institution meet its goals and ensure that students are happy and successful. A large part of this involves making sure that you and what you offer are properly suited to the organisations with which you are working. Losing track of this is of no benefit to you or your clients. 

4.         Reputation

Make sure that you deliver on what you promise. Your reputation can be your best asset or your Achilles heel. Word gets around the industry swiftly and it is far easier and quicker to lose a good reputation than to rebuild one. Make sure you stay realistic in what you can achieve and never feel pressured into making plans or promising figures that may seem impressive but will never be reached.

5.         Believe in the UK

It is the home of the English language with a reputation for academic excellence and cultural diversity, but don’t just take our word for it. Students are the proof of the quality of a UK education. UUK International reports that satisfaction rates in their 2015/2016 cohort were 91 per cent for undergrads and 90 per cent for postgrads. This is higher than the satisfaction ratings for the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as major European countries.

And on top of the quality of education there are plenty of other factors drawing people to study here such as the culture, society history and infrastructure.

Beyond the classroom walls: Reimagining the education paradigm

“While technology is not the answer to all challenges, it certainly is one solution”

The need to deliver education online is growing in popularity around the world, and this growth is not set to slow down anytime soon, writes Stéphanie Durand, ‎Head of Enterprise, EMEA at Coursera.

Technology is undoubtedly playing a vital role in the attitude shift toward breaking down traditional barriers of access. This means learning is no longer solely available to a reduced group of people. Opportunities for convenience, cost-effectiveness, and personal enrichment are just some of the variables that have contributed to online learning’s monumental growth.

Education for all – a case in point

Education is no longer off limits to anyone. Take Hadi Althib, one of Coursera’s learners, who fled his home country of Syria to escape military service in 2016.

“Online courses are boundless”

Hadi, now 23 years old, arrived in Turkey with dreams of starting a new life. He had no possessions and no plan. He settled near the Syrian border and focused on finding work and a place to live. Nearly 18 months after his arrival, like thousands of refugees across the world, Hadi turned to the internet for help and started to complete online courses to push himself back into education.

In the midst of conflict and instability, harnessing technology to reach disadvantaged communities and bridge gaps in traditional education systems can pave the way for refugees or anyone seeking to rebuild their lives and communities. Stories such as Hadi’s are evidence that this is working.

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MOOCs: Still Big News for International Learners

“We shouldn’t underestimate how important MOOCs can still be for global students”

 

Clarissa Shen, vice president of Udacity, recently declared MOOCs dead, “a failed product,” sparking yet another round of commentary in the blogosphere. While it is true that MOOCs have neither saved nor destroyed higher education as we know it (as was predicted early on), they are far from dead, writes Laurie Pickard, author of “Don’t pay for your MBA” and nopaymba.com.

The number of online courses continues to grow, and the number of students registering for and completing them continues to tick upward. More than 23 million people registered for a MOOC in 2016. 2017’s numbers haven’t yet been published, but data from the MOOC search engine Class Central suggests that more than 80 million people have taken at least one MOOC. Importantly, people around the world are still learning that MOOCs exist. For these new learners, MOOCs aren’t old news. They are still exciting, new, and full of potential.

I still remember my own excitement when I first learned that top-tier universities were offering free versions of their classes. I felt I needed a business education to further my career, but I wasn’t interested in getting into debt to fund an MBA.

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Why MOOCs and executives don’t mix

“Expecting executive learners to stay the (online) course based on a cobbled together jumble of videos, articles and chat rooms is farfetched”

Paul Hunter, director of IMD’s Corporate Learning Network, argues that MOOCs aren’t best suited to executives, and offers some tips about making virtual learning more appealing.

After the scurry of educational providers scrambling to be part of MOOC mania, the hype has all but dissipated, primarily due to low traction rates and lackluster results.

Undoubtedly, MOOCs have their place for disciplined and curious individuals with an iron will, available time and a natural predisposition to persevere. However, for time-stretched executives juggling high-pressure professional objectives and increasingly scarce personal time, MOOCs have not provided the hoped for panacea.
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Paul Hunter is the Director of IMD’s Corporate Learning Network. He is also Vice-Chair of ELIG (European Learning Industry Group), and a steering committee member of EFMD’s CLIP (Corporate Learning Improvement Process).