Sub-agent model offers strong benefits for institutions and agents alike

In terms of achieving results with student recruitment agents, as we have often mentioned here on ICEF Monitor, it all comes down to relationships. Naturally, this doesn’t happen overnight; it can take five or six months just to begin building a relationship with an agent.

Smaller schools in particular can face the challenges of smaller budgets and less brand recognition, so for them, personal connections are even more valuable. Another way smaller schools can stand out is by forming partnerships with larger agencies who can help them make a mark in a new region. Due to the reach and influence larger agencies have, if they begin to market a school or a product in a particular region, chances are that many other agencies in the region will want to work with that school as well. In this way, larger agencies often drive market trends and demand.

Another benefit of working with leading agencies is their connections with smaller local agencies who work with them as sub-agents, giving schools access to a huge network of consultants without the burden of managing all of them directly. It can be very labour intensive to manage a high volume of smaller agencies who might only send a few students per year. Therefore, institutions may need to ask themselves if the benefits of having many smaller agencies outweigh the time and administration needed to keep those networks going.

This issue is particularly evident in Southeast Asia, where several large agencies dominate the landscape. Institutions can often find that “80/20 Rule” applies to key source markets, meaning that 80% of the student market comes from 20% of the agencies.

One such kingpin agency is iae GLOBAL, an international education recruitment organisation that oversees a growing network of partners in major markets around the world.

In our latest video interview, Mr Mark Lucas, Director of iae, offers fascinating insights into the sub-agent networks commonly found in China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

In addition, Mark also highlights the rise of pathway products in recent years and indicates “it’s where the market is going.”

Watch our interview to learn more about how this influential agency operates and the benefits they bring to both institutions and agencies alike.

As Mark indicates, the main advantages of the sub-agent model for institutions include:

  • larger agencies have the resources to invest in admissions systems to manage student applications;
  • they act as a quality control filter, choosing to work with only the most reputable smaller agencies;
  • they provide marketing information to sub-agents so they can promote the schools effectively;
  • they provide training to the sub-agents, so school only need to train the main agency once, and they subsequently train the other partners;
  • large agencies drive markets and are at the forefront of industry trends;
  • the sub-agent model creates time, resource, and cost efficiencies in planning and execution.


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