One of the most important decisions one can make as a student or even as an adult is the decision to study abroad. Thus, for many aspiring students, missing the chance to get accepted into their chosen higher educational institution (HEI) just because they are not adept with the process, is frustrating. So, many students turn to education agents to help them.
However, with various education agents, and the different types of services they offer, how do you choose the right one? When choosing the right education agent, what is it that you have to look for? What’s an Education Agent and What Do They Do?
Although many HEIs accept direct applications from applicants, getting an education agent is a good option to make if you are new or unsure of how admission processes work.
Mainly, an education agent’s task is to assist college applicants in various processes they have to undergo when applying for an HEI, including guidance when applying for their student visa, looking for the right accommodation, and arranging their health insurance once the student gets into their institution of choice.
Aside from assisting in the whole admission process, here are other things an education agent can do for aspiring international students:
Give valuable information about an HEI and its admission
Give experience-based insights on admission that students can use to increase their chances of getting accepted
Act as a bridge between an HEI and students
Help the students create important decisions depending on what’s best for them, through counseling in choosing the right program, institution, and country, depending on their goals and interests How Do You Choose an Education Agent?
Here are some of the things you should consider when looking for an education agent. Credentials
The first thing you should look for and check is the agent’s credentials to avoid getting scammed and to get your money’s worth in case you have to shell some money out. Things you can ask for to ensure the agent is legitimate is his certification or authorization from your chosen HEI, or from a legitimate recruitment service provider. Some HEIs, for example, provide a list of agents and recruitment service providers from their own official websites, which you can check to validate.
The reason you need an education agent is due to his own experience when it comes to HEIs admission processes. Moreover, one thing that sets most education agents apart is their experience and well-established relations with various institutions, as this can show how well-informed they are in their advice and the updates you get about various institutions.
Not Everything Is About the Money
If, at the onset, an agent is already talking about huge amounts of money or asking you to pay them a large amount, then you should avoid this type of agent. However, you can ask about the fees you have to pay when using their services. Keep in mind that in using an education agent’s service, basic agent services are usually free, as it’s usually an HEIs’ role to pay education agents a commission when they succeed in recruiting students.
Types of Education Agents
Aside from the considerations mentioned above, when choosing the right education agent, you also have to know which type of agent you are working with.
Many people may believe that education agents are only one and the same. However, according to a 2021 report by the British Universities’ International Liaison Association, education agents, especially in the UK, can be categorized into six types reflecting the organizations they belong to.
The Sole Trader Type
According to the report, sole trader education agents make up 20% of agents in the UK. These types of agents can be distinguished with the following qualities:
Small or family-run business
Rely heavily on their local reputation and word-of-mouth
Do not have a sophisticated system in place, unlike big agent organizations and companies
Has limited resources due to being a small company
Gives highly personalized service to its student clients
Recruits less than 40 students a year
Moreover, due to its small size, sole trader agents usually work as sub-agents to bigger agent companies or groups, such as Market Specialists, Multinationals, and Education Giants.
The SME Type
The second type of education agent you may encounter is SME-type agents.
Among the types of agents in this list, SMEs offer the broadest range of operational models when it comes to student recruitment.
These are midsized organizations that may also work as sub-agents to other types of agent organizations, such as Market Specialists, Education Giants, and Multinationals. Moreover, there are also cases where SMEs are a result of demergers.
Aside from those, here are the other key attributes of SME agents:
Have multiple offices in just one country
Can recruit a moderate number of students yearly (around 20-200)
An SME is medium in size and may have 6-50 employees
Alfalink, an Indonesian agency, is an example of this, and Wiseway, which focuses on the Chinese and Hong Kong Market.
The Market Specialist Type
Market specialist agents came from well-systematized organizations. Often, those organizations are:
Known for their large geographic coverage and brand presence in certain countries or regions
Exclusively operating in one country or a region
Can recruit more than 1000 students every year
May have a staff of 50 or more
Have multiple offices in different cities and towns
Often, market specialist types of agents eventually become multinational types of agents or remain in this category.
The Multinational Type
Market specialists and multinational agents and their agencies are similar in a lot of ways, from the number of students they recruit annually, the number of staff it employs, to even in some of its operations.
However, what differentiates the two is that multinational agencies often operate in more than one country, or region. This helps in expanding their markets.
Aside from that, multinational agencies:
Operates in at least 3 or more countries
Can recruit over 1,000 students in a year
Has a large staff base, or more than 50 staff
Has multiple offices in different countries
An example of this type is TC Global.
The Specialist/Innovator/Online Type
Agents who fall into this category can also be categorized as sole traders or SME agents. However, what makes Specialists Unique is, as their name implies, their specializations.
Often, these agents:
Only recruit for a certain discipline
Only recruit for or certain types of HEIs
Some sub-groups focus on online recruitment and don’t have a physical office. They maximize the use of online platforms and digital tools when recruiting students.
An example of specialist types of agencies are Studee, and Mozaikplay.
Studee specializes in online recruitment and student services. Meanwhile, Mozaikplay focuses on connecting students to its partner creative colleges.
The Education Giant
Education Giants are small in numbers compared to other types of education agencies. This is because there are only a few education giants who have an education agency arm as part of their business line.
In fact, most education giants offer a variety of services for the international education industry.
An example of an education giant that has a recruitment agency arm or function is Kaplan. Kaplan works with various recruitment agencies, big or small, in different parts of the world. In fact, its partner agencies work with HEIs, in the UK, North America, Australia, and many more countries and regions.
Choosing the right education agent is important if you want to make your application in an HEI abroad easier. However, if you’re not sure whether to get an agent’s assistance or not, check out MSM Unify’s article on The Pros and Cons of Getting an Education Agent .