Agency-Educator relationship management: from on-boarding to sustainable recruitment partnerships
With up to half of all international students using the professional services of an education agent, and private and public-sector use of external recruiters an established and growing trend, successful relationships between schools and their agent partners are key drivers in meeting institutional (and consequently national) recruitment targets, in number, diversity and quality of students. The prime motivator of recruiter and educator alike in a healthy relationship is the commitment to the well-being of individual students. And that is best achieved when both institutions and agents understand and agree upon their roles. Today, we address the foundations and cornerstones of relationship management in the context of international student recruitment. As we explore this topic, we draw on the experiences of Uri Carnat, the Director of Client Relations and Business Development (Canada) for IDP Education. Mr Carnat is responsible for overseeing all IDP activity and growth in Canada, including secondary and post-secondary partnerships. Before moving to IDP, he ran 12 private language centres in Canada and the US. He has ten years of leadership experience in international education, with a background in student services and international travel. IDP has a network of over 80 international student placement centres located in more than 30 countries worldwide, and also co-owns the popular English language exam IELTS. IDP is the world’s largest student recruitment organisation, having assisted more than 300,000 international students with their educational journeys. Mr Carnat takes us through certain key stages in the agent-school relationship life cycle, starting at the beginning with bringing agents on board. As he explains, when laying the foundation for the relationship, it's important for institutions to consider the following:
- How is your information housed with your agent partner?
- How will counsellors use and access this information?
- Who from your institution is responsible for providing this information?
- Can you see demonstrations of the student-counsellor experience using your information?
- How often is the information updated and what is the update process?
- What is the ongoing verification system that your information is being used accurately?
- What kind of CRM system is the agency using, what kinds of student data and market information are they are capturing, and how is it being used?
Relationship management begins on Day One, but also needs to continue throughout the agreement. It's crucial for agents and education partners to work collaboratively, clarify responsibilities, and have ongoing, open communication and re-training processes. Determine from the outset how often you will meet (both virtually and in-person) to summarise progress to date and future expectations. And in terms of strategic planning, pay attention to each party's annual communication cycle as well as financial-year planning cycles. From mutual on-boarding methodologies to the shared flexibility required to jointly manage the student recruitment process, a successful relationship between schools and agents is ultimately built on shared values with respect to student welfare and success. The slidedeck below is from Mr Carnat's presentation mentioned at the beginning of our video interview "Best practices in sustainable recruitment partnerships" given at the ICEF North America Workshop in Toronto earlier this year.