A growing number of American universities are considering the use of agents to support their international student recruiting efforts. Agents fill the gap that exists due to the lack of college advising in overseas high schools, plus offer admissions preparation and advice for getting into graduate school. Typically, an agent will represent multiple universities and operate on a fee per successful placement. It is necessary to keep in mind that agents range in size and scope and that their definition of professionalism can challenge the admissions guidelines and practices of domestic recruiting. This can, in some cases, present significant risk to the university’s recognition and brand. Misbehavior from an agent also has the potential to impact the university’s standing with visa officials and can jeopardize all international recruiting.
If structured properly, the use of agents brings credibility and awareness of a university to global markets without significant costs in branding and marketing. Agents can uncover new niche markets and become a university’s eyes and ears in the local markets without massive investment in staff and infrastructure. Agent representation also brings a practical fiscal dimension to student recruitment as agents are paid only upon successful placement of students.
Recent lifting of the negative stigma around agent use has led many universities to consider their use in international student recruiting strategies. As the number of universities wanting to use agents rises, there is significant competition to be represented by reputable agents. To develop successful relationships with agents a university should prepare a well-defined process for selection, operational support and quality control.
Our consulting service provides universities the tools and training background to develop policies and procedures to build successful relationships with agents and manage the applications/enrollments they generate. We will help establish university policies around agent use, guide a process to evaluate and engage agents, plus help establish safeguards around quality. The service is designed to guide universities through the start-up of an agent program; to help universities understand and manage the risk of using agents, and harness the reward that the agent business model presents.
Our process involves:
- Market Research: analyze your university’s marketability overseas
- Competitor Identification: explore what students and agents think of your university
- Prime Competitor Analysis and use of Agents: set benchmarks with competing institutions
- Establish Agent Offer: develop Agent Handbook and marketing plan for agents
- Prepare University for Agents: share and establish “Best Practice” documents, end-to-end process review, staff training and orientation
- Solicit, Screen and Nominate Agents: oversee initial solicitation process to draw agents
- Long-Term Business Opportunities: recommend future opportunities and new initiatives
The service is conducted by Academic Assembly and their team of experts in the field. The project will take from 8 months to 2 years and is designed to assure your institution succeeds in this increasingly important and increasingly competitive sector of international student recruiting. Contact the sales team at Academic Assembly to arrange a call or a campus visit to discuss our Agent Program Start-up service.