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IALC announces new agency recognition programme

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
    • The International Association of Language Centres has announced its new IALC Approved Agency scheme
    • This new model is in effect as of January 2019 and replaces the previous IALC Partner Agent programme
    • Agents must apply with IALC for recognition, a status that is renewed annually

In recent years, there have been a number of initiatives to recognise qualified education agents and now IALC – the International Association of Language Centres, which represents more than 150 independent language schools in 23 countries – has announced a new recognition programme of its own. The IALC Approved Agency scheme will be awarded to study abroad agencies that work with IALC schools. Effective immediately, this new scheme replaces the previous IALC Partner Agent programme, and agents who were previously recognised as IALC Partner Agents will now need to apply for Approved Agency status.

IALC says the intention of the new programme is to “approve quality and reward loyalty” among partner agents.

How to apply

In order to receive IALC Approved Agency status, agencies must prove that they have partnered successfully with at least three IALC schools in the past 12 months, among other criteria.

Approved agencies are recognised for one year, and receive a logo for use on their website, exclusive marketing materials, a certificate of approval, and a listing on the IALC website. An application form and additional background details are also available from IALC.

The official IALC Approved Agency mark, 2019 edition

The important role of quality agents

IALC’s vice president for marketing, Robin Adams, notes that, “With so many schools to choose from, it is important that IALC have a means of recognising agent loyalty. We hope that through this scheme, we will not only be able to reward established agents for choosing to send students to our schools, but we also want to encourage new entrepreneurs to give their clients valuable experiences, at the start of their careers. It is our aim to foster true partnerships through this new initiative.”

And IALC’s president, Giorgia Biccelli, nods to the role the new scheme will play in branding IALC schools among top agents around the world:

“It is our belief this new scheme will dramatically increase the level of effective branding for the Association amongst influential international study travel agencies.”

The scheme demonstrates IALC’s awareness that effective partnerships with agents are an important part of the business strategy for their schools. Ms Biccelli says that the new scheme “acknowledges the work of all study abroad agencies around the world that partner with IALC schools.”

Use of agents growing

A 2018 IALC study revealed that while on average across age groups, language students tend to first find information on language schools on the Internet (via a school website or third-party portal), those in the 18–24 age bracket are more likely to use education agents to help find and apply to a language school.

The same study found that bookings through an education agent rose from 16% in 2013/14 to 23% in 2017; a large component of this increase is the fact that 42% booked through an education agent for English-language courses. As the authors note, “Every fourth student uses an education agency at some point, even if ultimately enrolling via another channel, predominantly directly (remotely, as well as in-person at the school) or through educational institutions in the home country.”

For additional background, please see:

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