Category: Education agents

Looking for a Pathway Partner? Part 2: Funding New Programming

“University financial decisions that fail to take the full… benefits of international students into consideration tend to underinvest in getting/holding on to those students”

  • Part 2 of our 4 part series on pathway programs. For part 1, please click here

In our previous post, we discussed the potential of a Coordinated International Student Support Infrastructure (or, CISSI) model as a way of creating a holistic, monitored, and appropriately invested approach to supporting international students. 

Key to this approach is identifying, testing, and continuously improving the services available to international students.  And doing this takes appropriate investment: time, expertise, energy, and yes — money.

Read More

Looking for a Pathway Partner? Maybe Check in the Mirror

“Even without a partner, you can still benefit from emulating the best elements of outside pathway providers”

If you are looking for a pathway partner, it is probably also true that you are looking for some kind of overarching structure to guide your international student management on campus.

You’re also not alone; in 2009, only two outside pathway partnerships existed in the US, while seven years later, there were 55*. Why such interest in partnering? Pathway Providers are most often selected by universities because they bring added value to a university’s international student lifecycle, from student recruiting to student support and career success.

Read More

How to maintain integrity as an education agent

“With each client there is more learning, as no two cases are exactly the same”

You don’t have to look far to find criticism of education agents in the field of international student recruitment.  From headlines condemning onshore student ‘poaching’ to accusations of application fraud, it’s harder to find praise for the role they play in helping students make one of the most important decisions of their lives. Maintaining integrity is essential for this controversial profession. Dharmendra Patel, managing director of the Aussizz Group, explains some of the key principles education agents must abide by. 

“Being an advisor who helps prospective students meet their future possibilities means having important responsibilities”

In the past not many people had access to study or work opportunities in different countries. But times have changed, and for the better. Countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and a few mainland European countries have emerged as leaders that offer education and jobs highly desirable to today’s prospective international students. It is not merely that they pay the top dollar, but they provide a chance to nurture one’s talents and grow to be a contributor. Apart from better-paying jobs, and renowned degree, it is the overall experience one can have which is ever more captivating.

Education agents are often responsible for introducing people to these opportunities. Being an advisor who helps prospective students meet their future possibilities means having important responsibilities. Their role is a diverse one, and the overseas consultant significantly impacts the life of a person who comes to them for proper guidance about the crucial decision of studying abroad.

In most cases, to better understand the client’s perspective and provide the best solution, all dealings happen face to face. With each client there is more learning, as no two cases are exactly the same.

Due to the important role agents play in their clients’ lives, preserving truthfulness and being upright with the people seeking advice is vital. There are certain practices that a consultant can observe to maintain the integrity in the entire process.

Read More

Is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s anti-agent stance a case of Americentrism?

“If US institutions hope to continue to attract international students in an increasingly competitive marketplace, then we had better sit at the table and find a way to make this work”

Jean-Marc Alberola, president of Bridge Education Group, reflects on a recent proposal to prohibit the use of compensated oversea student recruitment agencies in part of the US, and looks at the arguments for and against using agents.

After much study and debate on the topic of commissioned agents in international student recruitment, is it time for many in the US higher edu community to reflect upon the notion that it might be viewing the agent debate from an overly US focused perspective?

To many, the recent proposal by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to extend the prohibition on incentive compensation to the recruitment of foreign students who are not eligible to receive federal student assistance is bewildering. That is, it is bewildering unless we consider that this might very well be a case of bias, or having a US centric perspective, with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, that the context of domestic student recruitment somehow applies and is relevant outside the United States.
Read More

Jean-Marc is President of Bridge Education Group, a comprehensive provider of language and education services including corporate language training, teacher training, university pathway programs and international student recruitment. Jean-Marc started his language industry career with Telelangue Systems in Washington, D.C., before venturing on to Brazil, Chile and Argentina to launch Linguatec Language Centers. After 12 years in South America Jean-Marc returned to the U.S. to head up Bridge Education Group.

Jean-Marc has over 25 years’ experience in language and education abroad and is a regular presenter at AIEA, NAFSA, AIRC, IALC, and ICEF events. Jean-Marc holds a BA in Economics from the University of Vermont.

Universities, international students and “agents” – the perceptional disconnect

“There is a huge perceptional disconnect that is endemic within university staff at all levels and demonstratively so, when it comes to the role and use of ‘agents'”

In his second entry for The PIE Blog, Naveen Chopra, Chairman of The Chopras, one of India’s top study abroad agencies, once again challenges the definition of and criticisms levelled at “agents” in the international education industry. See his previous blog here.

At the core of the persistent and on-going debate within the wider media and university sector on the use and relevance of “agents” since many years, there is a huge perceptional disconnect that is endemic within university staff at all levels and demonstratively so, when it comes to the role and use of “agents”.
Read More

Naveen Chopra is chairman of The Chopras, one of India’s largest and most reputed student counselling organisations, working with over 10,000 students each year.

Universities, agents and international students: contribution and the controversy

“Let’s get this straight, shall we?”

Naveen Chopra, Chairman of The Chopras, one of India’s top study abroad agencies, takes on some of the criticisms aimed at agents in the international education industry.

Lately, a lot of stories have appeared in the media across the western world currently led by Australia’s newspapers, with headlines such as Gaping cracks open up in the Ivory Towers. Everyone is in on the act, including ABC’s Four Corners TV programme; which tried to demolish the reputation of Australian universities and the “agents” they use.
Read More

Naveen Chopra is chairman of The Chopras, one of India’s largest and most reputed student counselling organisations, working with over 10,000 students each year.

As student numbers have increased, so too has our reliance on agents

“The fact that most students and universities are satisfied with agents does not mean that activity and relationships are maximised”

Vincenzo Raimo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) at the University of Reading and Dr Iona Huang, Senior Lecturer, Harper Adams University, share their thoughts on OBHE’s recent report on agent use and what more can be done to support universities to optimise their agent relationships.

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) this week published an incredibly informative report on international student recruitment agents. Many of the findings will not come as a surprise to those working in this area. Agents are vital to universities meeting international student recruitment targets and as student numbers have increased, so too has our reliance on agents. In fact, the OBHE reports that agents are now almost as important as university web sites in students deciding where to study.

But the fact that most students and universities are satisfied with agents, as found by the OBHE, does not mean that activity and relationships are maximised and that UK universities do not have issues with their agent work that needs attention. It is worrying that the OBHE found 20% of UK university relationships with agents to be outside of any formal contract and that where contracts exist 45% do not include any performance measures.

“It is worrying that the OBHE found 20% of UK university relationships with agents to be outside of any formal contract”

Together with Christine Humfrey, special professor in International Higher Education at the University of Nottingham, we will be publishing our own report on UK universities work with international student recruitment agents next month. Like the OBHE we found that almost all UK universities make explicit use of international student recruitment agents to achieve their objectives. But while the British Council, the Quality Assurance Agency and the UK Council for International Student Affairs all provide some guidance on the use of agents, there is very little support for universities on how to ensure their agent activity is utilised safely and to best effect. And unlike the position in some other countries such as Australia and New Zealand, there is no national framework or rules governing the way universities work with agents in the UK. Each university which works with agents has its own policies and procedures, framework for relationships and commission rates.

With the support of The British Council and the collaboration of a representative group of universities, including one which claims not to use agents, in-depth interviews, data collection and analysis of university– agent relationships, from the university perspective, were undertaken in 2013 to help better inform the sector’s use of agents and to  share good practice.

“There is very little support for universities on how to ensure their agent activity is utilised safely and to best effect”

Our study reports the view from universities and different approaches adopted to agent relationships.  We found that in most cases more could be done to ensure greater returns on investment in agent relationships while also providing greater protection for universities. Ten recommendations emerged from our research. Adoption of the recommendations will very much depend on an individual institutions risk appetite: how much are they willing to invest (time and money), what sorts of agencies they are happy to contract with and what type of contractual relationships they are prepared to accept.

Homestay: the make-or-break part of a student’s study experience

“A school can provide PhD-level teachers, gold-plated desks, a perfect nationality mix, and 100% graduation rates. None of that matters if the student is getting what looks like dog food for dinner”

Cam Harvey, owner of Working With Agents Consulting, writes about the importance of open and honest communication in a strong agent-school partnership – one that always puts the health and strength of their relationship first.

“I’m fascinated by the stories in international education. And there are stories out there. Lots of highly emotional stories.  Each one often has multiple, emotionally charged versions depending on who is telling it – the school, the student, the parent, or the agent.
Read More

We’ve decided to be very transparent in our work with student recruitment agents

Vincenzo Raimo, Director, International Office at the University of Nottingham, UK, writes…

“The value of international students to UK universities is unquestionable and much more than just financial: they help create more diverse and interesting student communities, they help UK students develop a more global outlook and they help UK universities compete with the very best in the world by ensuring our student body, particularly at postgraduate level, is made up of the very best students from around the world.

But the need to bridge income shortfalls has put a great deal of pressure on international student recruiters to bring-in more students and increase income levels.
Read More

Vincenzo Raimo is pro-vice-chancellor (global engagement) at the University of Reading in the UK.

International student recruitment & the power of agents

At the internationally active University of Nottingham in the UK, Vicenzo Raimo, Director of the International Office, shares his views:

“In an ever more competitive international student recruitment market, UK universities are increasingly relying on the use of student recruitment agents to meet targets. Not only are universities failing to appreciate the full costs of international student recruitment but some are also in danger of failing to meet ethical standards in their work overseas.

Despite the significant increase in international students coming to the UK in recent years I am concerned that as a result of increasing competition and the more difficult environment resulting from the UK government’s changes to visa requirements, recruitment agents have become too powerful and the balance of power between universities and agents has shifted increasingly towards agents.
Read More

Vincenzo Raimo is pro-vice-chancellor (global engagement) at the University of Reading in the UK.