ICEF Monitor has interviewed Mr Mark Lucas, Director of iae GLOBAL, an international education recruitment organisation that oversees a growing network of partners in major markets around the world. Mr Mark Lucas talked about the sub-agent networks commonly found in China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia and highlighted the rise of pathway products in recent years indicating that “it’s where the market is going.
In his opinion there is a number of advantages of the sub-agent model for institutions. First of all, larger agencies have the resources to invest in admissions systems to manage student applications, whereby they also act as a quality control filter. They provide marketing information to sub-agents so they can promote the schools effectively and provide training to the sub-agents, so the universities only need to train the main agency once, and they subsequently train the other partners.
Building relationships with recruitment agencies is not easy and may sometimes take up to six months. For smaller schools in particular there are more difficulties in promoting themselves and therefore personal connections are very valuable. Also smaller schools can stand out by forming partnerships with larger agencies who can help them make a mark in a new region. Larger agencies have more power and influence, if they begin to market a school or a product in a particular region, chances are that many other agencies in the region will want to work with that school as well. In this way, larger agencies often drive market trends and demand.
Working with leading agencies is very beneficial as they offer connections with smaller local agencies who work with them as sub-agents, giving universities access to a huge network of consultants with no need to manage all of them directly thus saving time and money.
In Southeast Asia, in particular, there are several large agencies that dominate the landscape. Basically 80% of the student market comes from 20% of the agencies.
Overall it may be said that large agencies give much benefit to universities and sub-agent model proves to be very cost-effective and profitable for both sides.
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