By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

At the moment it seems my in-tray is straining under the weight of various reports on working with agents, recommendations for schools and agent partner schemes.

In today’s news story we cover a report produced in the UK and funded by the British Council. Unlike the recent advice published by the National Association of College Admission Counsellors (Nacac) in the USA, which was essentially their cautious beginner’s guide to working with agents for uninitiated institutions, this new report is preaching to the converted – well aware that agency usage is widespread among UK universities, a “vital tool” for some of the contributors to the report.

The report actually goes into lengthy detail about the numerous benefits that agents can provide for students and institutions. The study was picked up by some sections of the national media with a somewhat negative slant, which certainly seemed at odds with how I read it.

There were a set of recommendations for universities. Some of these such as due diligence are surely what an agency would expect, and some of the others related to how universities should train their own staff and support their agent partners. It wasn’t a report that screamed regulation and caution to me. Indeed, it urges universities to be more proactive in seeking agents, rather than relying in the steady flow of direct proposals they receive from agents.

And in the last couple of weeks we’ve also announced a stream of new partner agency schemes, including International House World Organisation and, most recently, English Australia.

The desire of associations in rewarding and acknowledging their agents and offering incentives to keep them loyal is certainly understandable, and will be welcomed by many.

But what we must not lose sight of in the industry, amid recommendations and regulations on one side and incentives and partner schemes on the other, is the integral importance of Felca and the national agency associations as the vanguard of industry standards.

I’d be interested to hear what agents think about the proliferation of partner schemes. Do please drop me a line if you have an opinion to share –  

You should hopefully have received the November issue of Study Travel Magazine by now. This includes the full list of winners in the STM Star Awards 2014, plus a chance to relive the glitz, glamour and giddy excitement of the evening through some fabulous photography. Elsewhere in the issue is an agency survey on Spain showing solid growth, a market analysis on the ELT sector in New Zealand and an analysis of student accommodation supply, plus all the regular columns.

Happy reading!

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