Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
Help shape the future of international education at the ICEF Monitor Global Summit London, September 23rd 2024
10th Oct 2018

New surveys highlight key elements of agent-educator relationships

Findings from two recent survey efforts highlight some key aspects of effective agency-educator relationships. In Agent-University Partnerships: The State of the Field and Commission Structure in 2018, the industry consultancy Intead partnered with the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) to put a pair of surveys in the field, one for universities and another for education agents. The questions that underpin that survey effort were discussed in a recent webinar, where attendees were invited to consider:

  • How their practices with respect to agency management and engagement line up with norms in the field.
  • The last time they re-examined payment and bonus structures for agents.
  • When they last checked in with agency partners to see if there is anything the university could be doing better to support their work.

The 163 resulting survey responses from universities lead Intead/AIRC to a few important observations along these lines. First, universities are more likely to say they are “very satisfied” with their agency partners when they work with a small number of agencies. More than half (55%) of those institutions who said they are “very satisfied” with their agent networks work with ten agencies or less. “Working with a small number of partners may allow for better-developed relationships – in turn, boosting satisfaction,” observes the study report. Second, there is an apparent linkage between the compensation offered by universities and results. Roughly a quarter of university-respondents to the Intead/AIRC survey said that they offer agents a financial bonus for exceeding enrolment targets. This subset of respondents was in turn much more likely to agree that “agents help increase international enrolment numbers” and “agents send us qualified candidates” than were universities who did not offer any such bonus terms. We can imagine that this is not strictly a matter of money. The institutions that have more sophisticated compensation schemes in place, including bonus provisions, are also more likely to be universities with more proactive and effective agent engagement strategies. It has often been said that good personal connections are at the heart of every good educator-agency partnership. And on this point, the study report offers, “Simply put, relationships need to be nurtured…Things go a lot more smoothly if you take the time to talk, show appreciation, keep your promises, and develop trust. Be choosy about which agents you partner with, consistently communicate, pay them fairly and on time, hold them accountable for their realistic estimates and results, and continuously measure your return on investment.” Overall, the survey finds an overwhelmingly positive view of agents among university respondents. Nearly nine in ten (88%) either agreed or strongly agreed that agents are an effective channel when recruiting in new markets, and three quarters (73%) said the same for markets where the university already has an established presence. some-of-the-overall-findings-from-university-respondents-to-the-intead-airc-survey-on-educator-agency-relations Some of the overall findings from university-respondents to the Intead/AIRC survey on educator-agency relations. Source: Intead/AIRC A similar percentage of responding universities (82%) agreed or strongly agreed that agents help to increase international enrolments and that the financial investment in agent networks is worthwhile. Nearly three in four (73%) also agreed or strongly agreed that agents refer qualified candidates. In terms of ongoing challenges cited by educators, 43% of universities agreed or strongly agreed that agency partners have high staff turnover, giving rise to an ongoing training requirement. Just under half (48%) also said that they find it difficult to identify qualified agent partners, and a similar proportion (45%) felt that their institution was not a priority for agents serving a large number of other clients.

The agent’s view

The Intead/AIRC study offers a number of recommendations to guide institutions in building and managing agency networks. A second recent survey, meanwhile, offers further insights on the training requirements of education agents. Australia-based International Education Services operates the PIER platform which delivers agent training courses and provides for counsellor certification and ongoing professional development. IES has a rolling online survey in the field for education agents that has to date gathered 10,000 responses from agencies around the world. Nearly 85% of those respondents rate training from educators as “very important”. And responding agencies indicated a clear preference for training delivered via self-directed resources online or in-person. agents-preferred-methods-of-receiving-training-from-education-providers Agents’ preferred methods of receiving training from education providers. Source: IES When it comes to subjects of interest, most respondents (40.5%) said that training about the educator’s programmes and services was most valuable. The next most-in-demand training subject was “work opportunities for students”, which was noted by 21.4% of respondents. most-important-training-topics-cited-by-agents Most important training topics cited by agents. Source: IES For additional background, please see:

Most Recent

  • Australia moves to curtail onshore “visa hopping” Read More
  • ICEF Podcast: The outlook for international education in the USA – live from NAFSA Read More
  • Canada’s Immigration Minister signals that changes are coming to post-study work rights Read More

Most Popular

  • Comparing student visa proof of funds requirements across 20 study destinations Read More
  • Canada: More provincial cap numbers announced; IRCC moves up end date for post-graduate work for partnership programmes Read More
  • Lessons from Denmark: The downside of limiting international student flows Read More

Because you found this article interesting

Australia moves to curtail onshore “visa hopping” Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil announced today the next phase of implementation in the package of...
Read more
ICEF Podcast: The outlook for international education in the USA – live from NAFSA Listen in as ICEF’s Craig Riggs and Martijn van de Veen recap some recent industry news, including an...
Read more
Canada’s Immigration Minister signals that changes are coming to post-study work rights For more than 15 years now, international students have been able to come to Canada, complete any type...
Read more
IDP investor guidance warns of market downturn through 2025 IDP Education is one the largest service providers in international education. As a publicly traded company on the...
Read more
Prospect survey points to key factors in study abroad planning for 2024 A global survey of nearly 27,500 prospective international students provides some helpful insights on key decision points in...
Read more
US launches new market diversification dashboard Given the need for new and better ways to collect and interpret data on international student movement, we...
Read more
US ELT sector continues a gradual recovery Intensive English programmes (IEPs) in the United States are reporting more modest growth for 2023, after a post-pandemic...
Read more
Market snapshot: A guide to international student recruitment in Brazil FAST FACTS Capital: Brasília Population: 218 million (2024) Youth population: 44% below the age of 30 Median age:...
Read more
What are you looking for?
Quick Links