March 2013 issue

News Round Up
Inside the industry
Agency Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Special Report
Course Guide
Regional Focus
Market Analysis

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The agent/school relationship

Professionalism, honesty and a thorough understanding of the sector: attributes UK independent schools have come to expect from new and existing agent partners. Nicola Hancox explores what makes a successful agency/school alliance.

In our experience, working with experienced, professional agents is the most effective method of student recruitment,” observes Justine Cook at Trent College, an independent day and boarding school and sixth-form college based in Nottingham. She notes that approximately 50 per cent of current international boarders were introduced via an agency, and almost all overseas students enrolled on the summer programme for juniors stemmed from agents.

 According to Helen Miller at Skola Group, agent usage currently accounts for 60 per cent of international students across their 10 centres, while at St Clare’s – an Oxford based international and residential college that welcomes students from more than 47 different countries – 28 per cent of the current overseas student body came via an agency, relates the school’s Greg Brett. “Our partner agencies are a valuable asset when it comes to maintaining a presence in our international markets,” he says.

 Indeed, aside from the obvious marketing benefits (agents promote the school to the local market and, on occasion, represent the school at local education fairs) there are many other advantages. Brett asserts that a consultant’s local knowledge is extremely valuable, as is their ability to promote programmes and counsel students and parents in a context they understand.

 The help and guidance that agents give during the admissions process, which can be lengthy and overly complicated, is also appreciated. “The admissions process can be very time consuming from initial enquiry, testing where relevant, interviewing and answering all the questions parents may have,” notes Cook.

Miller observes that without an effective network of agent partners, it is almost impossible for institutions to grow their international student communities. However, the process of developing a fruitful agency/school relationship takes time, she adds. “Developing the network is undoubtedly the hardest part of the job... It is this process... that can be costly and time-consuming.” A good agent should have a thorough understanding of the UK curriculum and be well-briefed in their partner schools’ product portfolios. “An agent is only as good as the information they have on their partner institutions and they have to be able to talk with confidence and in-depth knowledge if they are to successfully promote,” says Miller.

 So what constitutes a successful agent/school relationship? “Continual contact is key to maintaining a friendly, professional and efficient partnership with agents in other countries,” Brett observes. “This entails regular email and phone contact with individual agents, both in answer to their requests for information and materials such as brochures, as well as to inform them of new courses, or places on existing courses.”

 Cook asserts that it is important not to bombard agents with general correspondence, however. Instead, schools should establish a preferred method of communication with their agent colleagues – be it newsletter, phone call or email – and stick to it. “A brief chat reinforces the human element, which is very good for keeping a good working relationship alive and your school at the top of their mind,” she says.

“A partnership, however, is a two-way process and a good agent will always want to visit an institution if they are serious about being able to promote it,” relates Miller at Skola. Indeed, according to Brett, St Clare’s host familiarisation tours periodically to acquaint agent partners with its location and facilities. “Fam trips give our partner agencies a chance to visit the college, experience living in our accommodation, use the facilities, tour the campuses, and more importantly, meet St Clare’s staff,” he says.

 Similarly, school representatives should visit agent partners wherever possible to strengthen work ties, and, as Miller says, to “inform and educate other office staff through presentations”. Meanwhile, Cook stresses the importance of supporting in-country events hosted by agent partners. “Not only is this important in recruiting new students, but it also helps to build the school’s reputation abroad whilst demonstrating a commitment to the agent partnership,” she details.

So what do schools look for in a prospective agent partner? According to Tessa Foulds at Worksop College in Nottinghamshire, professionalism, reliability and honesty are essential ingredients in any business relationship. Foulds also signals the importance of a flow of good quality students.

When marketing the school and its programmes to an overseas agent market, Foulds cites marketing trips and niche workshops, such as the British Boarding Schools Workshop, as good for making contacts. Agents have generated 80 per cent of the current international student population at Worksop College, says Foulds.

 While the topic of commission structure will inevitably arise when forging a new agency partnership, Miller notes, “If during the first meeting the first question is what commission rate is being offered, then this would indicate that the students’ best interests are not necessarily their priority, which would be very worrying,” she asserts.

From an agent’s perspective

“The role of the agent in the recruitment of students is crucial and can’t be underestimated. Consultations with parents and students can take hours. There are a lot of things we discuss: a student’s academic results, their abilities, interests, extracurricular activities, the student’s character etc. Then we consider subjects, which is especially essential for A-level or IB and can affect the choice of the school. Efficiency of [a school’s] admissions department constitutes a good working relationship. We stop working with schools that do not respond to e-mails promptly. Sometimes the work of marketing staff and a school’s investment in marketing can be damaged by [an inefficient] admissions department. Many of our business partners have become our friends whom we can trust and discuss any problems or doubts regarding our existing or future students.” Olga Govor, Meridian Group, Latvia

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.






AHLI - American Home Life International  
Generation Estates  
Homestay Technologies Ltd  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
English UK  
Feltom Malta
Languages Canada / Langues Canada 
Quality English  

Ability English  
Academia International College 
Access Macquarie Limited  
Australian Institute of Professional Education  
Cairns Language Centre / Eu
rocentres Cairns  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
English Language & Foundation Studies Centre  
UNSW Global Pay Limited (University of New South Wales)  
Algoma University  
Bow Valley College  
Camosun College  
Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology  
COMOX valley - School District 71  
East Coast School of Languages (ECSL)  
University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres  
Ecole Quebec Monde  
Hansa Language Centre of Toronto  
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Niagara College  
Ottawa International Student Programmes (OISP)  
St Giles Vancouver  
Anglia Ruskin University  
Bright World Guardianships  
Camp Beaumont  
International House World Organisation  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Prime Education  
London Language Centre  
London School of Business & Finance  
School of Oriental and African Studies  
St Giles International  
Trent College  
TUS Advertising  
Twin Group  
University of East Anglia  
Cambridge Esol  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service
Accent Francais  
Alliance Francaise Marseille-Provence  
Centre Mediterraneen d'Etudes Francaises  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
French in Normandy  
Groupement FLE  
ILCF Institut Catholique de Paris  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  
Université de Perpignan  
F+U Academy of Languages  
ESL Ecole Suisse de Langues  
English For Asia  
Guard. Me  
Ingle International  
Centre of English Studies  
IH Cork  
Travelling Languages - Think Ahead LTD  
A Door To Italy  

Feltom Malta
inlingua Malta  
City Education Language School  
EC Cape Town  
EF International Language Centers  
English Language School Cape Town  
Eurocentres International  
Good Hope Studies  
International House Cape Town  
inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
Jeffrey's Bay Language School  
Kurus English CC  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Teaching Centre  
EF International Language Centers  
Eurocentres International  
Malta Tourism Authority  
International Mediterranen Academy  
AHLI - American Home Life International  
Brown University  
California State University San Marcos  
ELS Language Centers  
FLS International  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Glenholme School  
Global Language Institute  
Hun School of Princeton  
Lawrence Academy  
Montverde Academy  
Saint John's University  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Lan
guage Centers

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