fbpx
Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF

Students relying more on education agents for assistance with study abroad decisions

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • QS data shows that education agents represent an increasingly important marketing channel in the pandemic as international travel is not possible and face-to-face student fairs aren’t happening
  • QS reports a 33% increase in conversions “when agent-managed students are engaged with directly throughout their decision-making journey
  • More than 1 in 5 students responding to this year’s QS International Student Survey have worked with an agent

A new report from QS shows that international students are relying more than ever on agents in their decision-making about study abroad. The report, How to Navigate the Challenges of Agent Management in 2021, notes that the entire recruitment landscape going into next year is much different than it ever has been. Students are increasingly influenced by agents’ recommendations, and educators who know how to integrate agents into their international marketing plans stand to gain an important edge in target countries. A main takeaway from the QS data is that agents can provide a major boost to universities’ efforts to move students – who are navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic – through the enrolment funnel:

“Up-to-date information about intake start dates, course offerings, fees, scholarships, or policy changes are critical to student decision making, particularly in a year where there is so much movement and so many unknowns. QSES data demonstrated that there was a 33% increase in conversions when agent-managed students are engaged with directly throughout their decision-making journey.”

Because several other marketing channels will remain unavailable to universities and schools for at least part of 2021, including face-to-face student fairs and the opportunity to travel to target markets, agents may be a central element of international recruitment for many universities for the foreseeable future.

Agent usage increasing

There has been a big jump in the number of students saying they are working with agents. In 2014, only 14% of prospective international university students responding to that year’s QS International Student Survey said they had worked with an agent; in 2020, this proportion rose to 22%.

As we reported recently, agents typically account for roughly half of international student referrals for leading study destinations. Taking that as a jumping off point, some observers have pointed out that agents are expected to play an even greater role in recruitment for most destinations going forward, and especially during the COVID recovery.

Those universities and schools who are not yet working with agents might well want to look at the following chart, which shows the dramatic year-over-year increase in agents’ influence (+7.8%) on student acceptance of offers from Australian universities.

Comparing the reasons students accepted their offer of enrolment to an Australian university for Semester 1 2020 and Semester 1 2021. Source: QS

Another chart, pulled from QS’s 2020 International Student Survey, Volume 2 (compiled from more than 80,000 responses), shows that 65% of prospective students said that they found agents to be useful in helping them study overseas.

Lower proportions said agents had a direct influence on the country and institution they chose to study at, indicating that a broader range of factors is at play in students’ ultimate decision. The QS report authors note that while universities’ strategic use of agents can be helpful, it’s also important for admissions staff to find ways to communicate with students directly, as information that comes right from the institution is viewed as the most authoritative by students.

Level of student agreement to statements about education agents. Source: QS

For additional background, please see:

Most Recent

  • The rise of alternative destinations: Thailand, Poland, and the Philippines Read More
  • Comparing student visa proof of funds requirements across 20 study destinations Read More
  • ICEF Podcast: Start-ups in international education: disrupters or innovators? Read More

Most Popular

  • Canada’s foreign enrolment grew by more than 30% in 2022 Read More
  • Measuring cost of study and cost of living across study destinations Read More
  • Recruiting in the Emirates: Big goals, world-class education, and new scholarships Read More

Because you found this article interesting

The rise of alternative destinations: Thailand, Poland, and the Philippines A growing body of industry research shows that in 2024, international students are considering a wider range of...
Read more
France hosted 412,000 foreign students in 2022/23 Campus France has released its international student enrolment data for 2022/23, and in contrast to the double-digit percentage...
Read more
Hong Kong needs to build more student housing In his October 2023 address, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee set out some ambitious goals for the...
Read more
Business school survey again signals declining non-EU enrolment in UK The most recent survey from the Chartered Association of Business Schools in the UK reveals that, “International student...
Read more
Canada: Ontario’s cap implementation plan allocates nearly all study permit applications to public colleges and universities On 26 February 2024, the Government of Ontario – Canada’s most-populous province and host to just over half of...
Read more
New Zealand’s international enrolment continued to recover in 2023 New Zealand’s international education sector welcomed significantly more students in 2023 than in 2022, according to data released...
Read more
Irish ELT sector continues to exceed pre-pandemic levels of business The Irish English-language sector continues to expand, with business in 2023 once again surpassing performance before the pandemic,...
Read more
Lessons from Denmark: The downside of limiting international student flows We need not look far this year for examples of how national governments in major student destinations are...
Read more
What are you looking for?
Quick Links