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Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
11th Oct 2023

Education agents the primary channel for K-12 recruitment in China

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • Nearly nine in ten Chinese parents said that education agents were the information source they relied on most when planning for their children’s studies abroad
  • A similar proportion said that they applied for K-12 admission through an education agent
  • This represents a roughly 20% increase in the reliance on education agents among Chinese parents compared to a previous survey cycle in 2021

A newly released survey from the UK-based Boarding Schools' Association (BSA) finds that agents now play an even greater role in recruiting Chinese students for independent K-12 schools in the UK. The survey gathers responses from nearly 1,000 parents of students who are already enrolled or have already applied to a UK school.

Education agents were overwhelmingly ranked as the top source of information by parents with 86.5% saying that they relied most on agents (up from 74% at the time of the last survey cycle in 2021). This compares to the 52.5% who said they turned to school websites, recommendations from friends and family (46.9%), and school visits (27%).

Similarly, nearly all respondent-parents (86.3%) of prospective students said that they intended to apply through an education agent (up from 71% in 2021). Among respondents of currently enrolled students, 88.49% said they had applied through an agency, another notable increase from the 78% who said they did so in the 2021 survey.

“It is increasingly clear from our surveys, that agents have been playing a more and more important role in the admission process. UK schools need to be aware of this trend and work more closely with agents," said the survey report.

Source: Boarding Schools' Association

For parents of prospective students, local accreditation was a top factor in choosing an agent (96% rated this as "important" or "very important"), alongside provision of guardianship services (97%), recommendations from friends and family (77%), and fees (67%).

Other notable changes from the 2021 survey include:

  • Reasons for study abroad. Most respondents (73%) cited "pressure from the current Chinese education system" as the main reason for exploring study abroad (up from 41% in 2021). This was followed by an interest in "a more well-rounded education" (70%), and getting on a pathway to enter a top-ranked university (50%; up from 33% in 2021).
  • Destination choice. Along with the UK, parents were most likely to consider the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia when planning for K-12 studies abroad. "Security and safety and educational quality were rated as the top two factors in choice of destination," adds BSA. "But employment prospects/immigration possibility was more prominent this year at 28%, compared with only 12% in 2021."

For additional background, please see:

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