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Int'l student recruitment strategies for education agents

In this increasingly competitive digital landscape, education agents have to find creative ways and means of stretching their budgets and making every engagement effort count. This means using multiple channels to keep marketing going 24/7 especially in the face of competition from other education agencies, academic institutions and city councils actively promoting their own location.
This development is good for international students as they are given more options in the choice of a study destination and degree program.  Students nowadays take charge of their own research in addition to getting advice from education agents and academic advisers. The challenge is for education agents to ensure that they’re top-of-mind when it’s time for students (and their parents) to make a decision after considering the pros and cons of a study destination and academic institution.

Using the flywheel concept

Jeff Bezos propelled Amazon to incredible heights by following the flywheel concept, originally created by Stanford Business School Professor Jim Collins as an analogy for implementing a business strategy that doesn’t show results straightaway. As the heavy flywheel is continuously turned with great effort, it eventually gains momentum and produces amazing results.
For education agents and counsellors, embracing this strategy means integrating all recruitment channels to simultaneously produce results and build credibility. According to ICEF, there are seven distinct channels through which schools recruit international students. These include: (1) institutional cooperation, (2) alumni network, (3) advertising, (4) fairs and exhibitions, (5) internet and social media, (6) education agents and (7) government organisations.
Keeping realistic expectations is key as education agents activate their own recruitment channels simultaneously and consolidate those that create more traction. They can efficiently allocate their time and energy in managing leads.
As their efforts begin to show more and more results, they eventually gain credibility and buy-in from international students and their parents. They are able to follow through on their commitments to deliver on the expectations of students and parents. As the “flywheel” continues to turn, word-of-mouth from satisfied students and happy parents will gain momentum and wield its own impact into the different channels such as social media comments and engagement. “Recruitment is a never-ending process and should be embraced as a 24/7 endeavor to ensure that education agents handling each student’s concern are top-of-mind when it’s time to make a decision, which normally has a build-up cycle of one to two years,” says John Dizon, VP for Sales Operations and Enablement.

Sharing campus events on social media

Education agents can share with prospective students some of the events happening on the campuses through social media. They can also share useful information on what activities to expect once students get to their destination in addition to facilitating scholarships, IELTS and other visa requirements; thus, covering every step in the student’s application journey.
As EduCo continues to raise the profile of its colleges and universities in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States, prospective students will also be given a chance to familiarise themselves with the culture and lifestyle of the study destination. Education agents can also highlight the best features of each town or city where the campuses are located in terms of liveability, climate, safety and job prospects after graduation.
In a PIE News report, a survey of 20,000 students revealed that the top drivers in the choice of a study destination for international students are: (1) experiencing a new culture, (2) achieving career goals, (3) embracing the adventure, (4) making new friends and widening professional network, (5) quality of teaching, (6) studying for free and (7) visa requirements.

Addressing parents’ concerns

Building credibility with students means earning the trust of their parents as well. Education agents should be prepared to answer questions and provide valuable information on issues that parents are concerned about such as:

  1. Safety on and off campus

  2. University’s success rate, institutional ranking and availability of scholarships

  3. Internship programs and job opportunities after graduation

Addressing these concerns will bring about peace of mind for parents.  It will also reinforce their trust and confidence in the EduCo agents’ capacity to go above and beyond expectations.