The results are in from the 2011 i-graduate ICEF Agent Barometer Survey, and as usual, they offer indispensable insights for stakeholders in international education.
Fully 737 agents representing 102 countries took part in the online survey, which is now in its fifth year and which was conducted from mid-September to mid-October 2011.
The survey results were presented during a special seminar at the recent ICEF Berlin Workshop. Key findings include:
- The top destination countries reported by agents (as measured by the top-box response category “very attractive”) remain stable, with the US leading (72%), followed by the UK (63%) and Canada (59%), and Australia (47%). New Zealand rounds out the list at 37%.
- Canada has seen the most year-on-year increases in agents’ reports of where they are placing students for specific programmes. Canada has gained in the areas of secondary/high school placements; vocational education; foundation courses; undergraduate, graduate, and MBA courses; and work & travel. While Canada is not in first place in any programme area, it is getting more competitive in virtually all with frontrunners the UK and the US.
- Almost 9 in 10 (88%) agents expect to place more students in the next 12 months than they did in the previous year, a higher proportion than in 2010 (79%). In terms of traditional destinations, agents are the most bullish about the US, the UK, and Canada, and in terms of emerging markets, they are the most bullish about China and Malaysia.
- The recession continues to fade as an issue for agents (36% named it as a concern vs. 54% in 2009), putting the recession in second place as a concern to Study Visa problems (71%). Two-thirds (65%) said changes to visa regulations in some countries are impacting their recruitment efforts.
- Agents say the top three crucial marketing elements for institutions are #1: quick response times to enquiries and applications, #2: regular communication efforts, and #3: an agent manual with fees and information.
- They consider location and cost of study to be the major factors influencing student choice, consistent with findings in the previous years of the survey.
The i-graduate ICEF Agent Barometer is a unique global survey of qualified agents, and a joint venture of ICEF and i-graduate. Please see the i-graduate website for additional background.