This week, Gabriela Facchini, International Recruitment and Partnerships at Georgian College in Barrie, ON, Canada, discusses the benefits to the institution of working with agents.

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Georgian College and agents: A winning combination

“At Georgian College‘s International Department, we find our partnerships with agents to be indispensable. A majority of international student applicants come to us after working with them.

For a number of reasons, we prefer to work with selected agents and refer all independent potential applicants to them. When we attend student fairs, we almost always involve an agent at our booth, and we highly support them in other ways in their own markets.

Students who come to us through agents tend to be better prepared. They are readily available to students in their home communities to counsel them about their best options. Agents’ experience allows them to recommend what is best for each student and to follow up with them on all matters related to their choice of school, accommodation, and visa procedure and documentation, as well as cultural awareness and preparedness.

Applicants who work with agents and who subsequently apply directly to Georgian College know what questions to ask and what advice to seek. Agents are able to give the students what they ask for plus all the information they did not think to ask about. This translates into fewer withdrawals for us at Georgian, as students adapt more quickly and face fewer surprises and unexpected difficulties upon arrival. Culture shock is diminished.

Agents come to know students through face-to-face interaction. They can gauge students‘ academic levels and anticipate the difficulties they may face. They are then able to provide Georgian College with this information prior to arrival if needed.

As our agent partners gain confidence in the services provided by Georgian, their knowledge of Georgian‘s strengths, its policies and practices, its offerings and its services become more and more familiar to them. As long as Georgian delivers on its promises, their business increases year after year. It is a win-win situation.

Agents have an excellent knowledge of their own markets. They know best how to promote Georgian College in their region. They have their own contacts and are able to reach deeply into our target market in a way we cannot. They know where and how to advertise. Often, they are able to visit educational institutions on an ongoing basis.

This means that if Georgian College is interested in an alliance with a certain overseas college or university, we can make one initial visit to create the alliance and add credibility to negotiations. Afterward, the agent remains behind to speak with contacts and to follow up with presentations to potential students and parents. They also complete administrative procedures for applications, as well as arrangements for visas and payments to Georgian.

Georgian College saves considerable expense, travel costs and human resources through such partnerships. For the most part, Georgian can make an initial visit to train agents. Then we need only meet once annually to review new services, changes to existing services, and to solidify relationships. The agents remain in their home market constantly to sell Georgian services.

By working together with agents whom we know and trust, Georgian College can reduce the number of trips we need to make to a given destination to recruit and “close the deal”. It also cuts down on the number of inquiries we receive and the sales work that we would otherwise need to complete in-house.

Agents are better positioned to screen students as applicants to Georgian and as visa applicants. They are able to predict fairly precisely the likelihood of success, taking into consideration where the student lives and their personal and economic situation.

One final consideration – agents are able to extend Georgian College‘s brand recognition internationally. The more agents who carry our logo and explain our services on their websites, social media sites and through local advertising, the more Georgian College is recognized and sought after.

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