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Each year, education agents – appointed recruiters and mediators between education institutions and prospective students – recruit hundreds of thousands of prospective students for overseas courses and programmes. For the last eight years, ICEF has been publishing its annual i-graduate Agent Barometer, which surveys education agents’ work and perception of the global education market. ICEF surveys look into some of the ‘popular’ questions around international mobility, such as types of student placements, the most popular destinations, difficulties students face before and after the courses as well as the preferred marketing tools for student recruitment. The data in the 2014 report, published this month, are the account of 1 065 agents who took part in the survey.
The respondents report around 30 000 more students recruited in 2014 – around 360 000, compared to 329 000 in 2013. The main types of placements for which they recruit remain language schools, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, foundation courses and MBA programmes. There are no major changes either in the most popular study destinations. The usual suspects (US, UK, Australia and Canada) are still the main education providers for foreign students. Just as last year, agents place the US highest in terms of undergraduate, graduate and MBA programmes. The UK is perceived to be the best provider of language courses and secondary education, while Australia’s appeal is in its provision of vocational education. The prospects for 2015 are even more students recruited to the traditionally popular destinations, particularly to Australia, where international enrolment is increasing again after some years of a downward trend.
How do education agents recruit? Online tools – institutions’ websites and social media – are gaining in importance but print marketing is still regarded as the most effective, particularly institutional brochures, which were emphasised by 53% of agents. Next come information seminars for students and parents (49%) and visits to local schools and colleges (40%). Agents also underline the importance of quick institutional response times to inquiries and the provision of agent manuals with relevant information.