Badges of honour
When I was a Brownie I used to collect badges to show my skill in a particular domain I think I excelled in the home-making department, although I’ll have to ask my boyfriend if he agrees now! (Brownies are the female equivalent of cub scouts).
Throughout life, there seems to be a temptation to display badges or symbols that help give definition to what one is or what one has achieved. The car stickers announcing a Greenpeace supporter, the restaurants displaying a Zagat rating, for example and it is no different really in the international education industry. Schools are keen to display their membership of a quality club, such as English Australia or Ialc. We find out what such school associations have been up to in our Special Report this month and often, working on those quality credentials is one definite area of focus.
In Ireland, the government has decided that a quality mark for schools will be part of the remit of a new International Education Board of Ireland that is being created. So, in addition to possible membership of schools’ association, MEI~Relsa, another quality benchmark will join the rollcall in Ireland many such logos and testaments can be seen worldwide displayed by language school operators keen to impress upon potential clients their badges of honour.
Agents are not immune from such worthy professional posturing either, with country-specific training delivered by export education agencies leading to various possible certificates of recognition. These are qualifications that agencies can gain on top of agency association membership and New Zealand is the latest country to offer such a quality training initiative.
As well as associated kudos that comes from testaments to achievement and quality, a strong track record and brand name is the holy grail of marketing and as one agency points out in Korea, once a strong brand name is achieved, it has to be maintained carefully. We investigate the use of sub-agencies in this issue and find out that an issue of trust is the main concern for agencies considering this as a means of expanding business. For this reason, licensing an agency to use a brand name is less common than setting up a simple working partnership.
Strong working partnerships define this industry, and a quality-label adornment may be the best way to initiate such a partnership in the first place.