JAOS agents provide advice for Australian educators

23 July, 2014

Australian institutions should re-think engagement with Japanese agents and need to communicate their unique selling points, according to a report produced by government body Austrade in association with Japanese agency association JAOS.

The new JAOS study abroad website for students

The Japan agent engagement report: Realising productive partnerships document, the first produced on the country by the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and based on interviews with 19 JAOS member agencies, found that Japanese agents generally have a positive view of Australia as a study destination, but warned its market share was under threat from competitors including Canada, the Philippines and New Zealand.

The surveyed agents recommended that institutions could raise their profile by measures including: communicating their unique selling propositions; developing alumni strategies showcasing institution “superstars”; re-affirming the basics of safety and quality of life – important considerations for Japanese parents; and raising the profile of English plus courses, which were widely praised by agents.

Seventeen of the agents reported overall increasing enquiries from students, and reasons cited for this included Japanese corporations’ demand for global human capital (GHC) with increasing emphasis on study abroad, government funding campaigns for study abroad, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic effect.

The most commonly cited positive perception of Australia was safety (chosen by 19 per cent of respondents), followed by lifestyle/climate (18 per cent), similar time zones and the range of study options (both 11 per cent).

However, the cost of tuition was cited as a potential challenge for Australian education institutions operating in the Japan market. Agents and Austrade recommended this could be countered with a focus on selling Australia as a GHC training ground, its globalised learning environments, and articulating marketing messages on the return on investment from courses.

The Austrade report highlights how Japanese agents are extending their core activities. “By building partnerships with the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology (MEXT), prefectural government boards of education and individual institutions, agents are now well placed to develop new pipelines of business for institutions.” It notes that increasing numbers of Japanese universities are outsourcing their study abroad services to agents.

In conclusion, the report states, “Australian education institutions now have a critical window to re-think their engagement with their agents before competitor nations lock in partnerships and push Australia from view. For institutions that are not achieving optimal results from their agents, Austrade urges a re-assessment of current practices and a re-commitment to realising a productive relationship.”

The full report is available to Austrade Market Information Package subscribers here.

In other JAOS news, the association has launched a new study abroad website www.ryugaku-jaos.org, with guides to studying abroad in 15 different countries, explanations of different types of study abroad and experience stories from 46 students.

The site introduces JAOS member agencies, includes an agency search function and provides tips on how to make use of agency services.

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