Category: International student recruitment

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.
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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.

Off the beaten pathway: why UK universities should open up to more partnerships

“It may be that the rapid adoption of embedded pathways by UK universities is a case of hungry institutions in an international restaurant ordering the only menu item they understand, as opposed to the best dish”

University pathway programmes for international students have been the subject of much debate in recent years. The UK pathway market is flourishing, but universities should consider they’re limiting their options with a single partner, argue Prateek Aneja and Ryan Craig, vice president and managing director at University Ventures.

One of the most remarkable developments in UK higher education over the past decade has been the rapid adoption of embedded pathway programmes by universities. Embedded pathways serve international students through Foundation Year programmes – including EFL training and development of general academic preparedness – that are located on or adjacent to campus, are operated by commercial providers, and guarantee progression to students who achieve at the requisite levels.
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Prateek Aneja is Vice President at University Ventures, a firm reimagining the future of higher education and creating new pathways from education to employment, where Ryan Craig is Managing Director. Craig is also author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education.

Comparing the US and UK: contrasting trends in international education

“The biggest challenge for British universities is that its top two source countries — China and India — are not driving enrollment growth”

International student enrolments in the UK have flatlined, with Indian students continuing their downward slide, according to the latest statistics published by the Higher Education Statistics Authority last week. But how does the picture compare in the US?  Dr. Rahul Choudaha, co-founder of research and consulting firm DrEducation, shares his analysis.

The following table shows the shape of international student trends in the UK and US in recent years, based on data from HESA and IIE’s Open Doors report:

US IIE and UK HESA data on international student statistics - Dr Education
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Dr. Rahul Choudaha is co-founder of DrEducation — a US-based research and consulting firm specialising in international student mobility trends and enrolment strategies.

No end in sight for the UK’s Indian slump

“Unless there is a significant shift in UK visa policy or a re-introduction of Post Study Work, it is hard to see how the UK can recover its share of Indian students”

Aaron Porter, director of insights at Hotcourses, delves into the data…

Prime Minister Theresa May finished her first major international visit to India last week, and higher education was high on the agenda for the bilateral talks. Accompanied by Universities Minister Jo Johnson and a number of UK vice chancellors, attempts will surely have been made to arrest the slump in demand from Indian students looking at UK universities. Indian Premier Narandra Modi certainly raised the importance of ensuring the UK was both open and welcoming for Indian students.
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Brexit means tough times ahead for UK HE

Professor Aldwyn Cooper, Vice Chancellor at Regent’s University London, shares some sobering predictions about UK HE’s post-Brexit future.

There is much discussion about the potential impact of ‘Brexit’ on UK universities. The answer, of course, is that nobody really knows what will happen next, and the total impact will be determined by the nature of any agreement that is finally reached.

In terms of research funding, where at present UK universities are the largest recipients of EU research and structural funding, loss of access could be devastating to many higher education institutions.
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Professor Aldwyn Cooper is vice chancellor at Regent’s University London.

Fairer Home Office regulations for smaller institutions

“The political imperative to tighten the numbers of immigrants entering the country must be balanced against the need for a fair system for all institutions”

In the UK, concerns have been brewing for some time that strict Home Office regulations – including the cap on the number of visa refusals institutions are permitted to keep operating – may be disproportionately harming smaller institutions, writes Alex Bols, deputy chief executive of GuildHE. What can be done to remedy the situation?

The UK has a world-class higher education system, the strength of which is – at least in part – the result of the huge diversity of universities, of all sizes and specialisms.

Many students deliberately choose to study in a smaller or more specialist institution because of the world-class facilities as well as the safer and more personalised experience that they will receive and these opportunities should be available to the many international students wanting to study in the UK.
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Alex Bols is Deputy Chief Executive of GuildHE – one of the recognised representative bodies for UK higher education. In addition to working in UK higher education he was also Secretary General of the European Students’ Union.

Is it time for Gilligan II?

“The target for the UK’s market share proposed by the British Council in 2000 was 25% by 2005 – a fantasy figure which just didn’t see the competition coming”

Universities’ international marketing strategies have no doubt grown smarter in the 15 years since an influential report on the subject was published, writes Vincenzo Raimo, pro-vice-chancellor (global engagement) at the University of Reading – but as competition stiffens and the challenges facing UK HE change, is it time for a new one?

It’s been 15 years since Professor Colin Gilligan published his report for the British Council on international marketing and student recruitment practices within UK universities. The Gilligan Report challenged UK universities to professionalise their marketing activity and to meet the opportunity of growing international student intakes.
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Vincenzo Raimo is pro-vice-chancellor (global engagement) at the University of Reading in the UK.

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”.
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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.
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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.