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All you need to know about the School - Agent relationship

Be it in the higher education market or any other field within the education travel industry, schools have often come to us seeking advice on how to deal with agencies of education. As a result, today we have decided to highlight the main aspects of these relationships in this article, to help shed some light on the main factors that determine basic school-agency relationships in our industry.

The starting point is simple. The education agency still plays a very important role in our field, and it is a well-known fact that it is education agents who, in fact, recruit a significant number of international students, and without their input, our schools will very often not survive. It is, therefore, for this reason that such relationships should be cared for and nurtured; and the best way to do this is for both parties to communicate as often and as honestly as possible. The basis of every solid partnership is trust, and the same goes for any agency for education and the education provider.

The two main points that we shall be looking at today are commissions and agency fees.

Commissions

The first point to discuss, and which is certainly a determining factor in this relationship, is the education agent commission rate. We often speak to schools who believe that agents will only work with those education providers who offer them the highest commission rates. However, when we talk to agents - and by this we mean the serious agents - we discover that lasting partnerships within the education market go beyond commissions and percentages. By no means are we saying that this is not important, however, apart from how much they will be making, agents also need to know that the schools they are working with offer high standards in terms of courses, accommodation options as well as the student activities that they offer.

It often helps, and we advise our schools to do this, when a student agency in the education industry actually visits the school so that the agency representatives see for themselves what kind of services the school is offering. Whenever an agent has a student at their desk who is asking for recommendations, it is normal human nature that the agent will remember that school he or she visited and which offered a great experience first. It is also normal human nature that the agent will be able to sell this school better, because they have seen it and experienced it first hand.

We also advise our schools to stay away from the question that many education providers tend to ask during workshops and events i.e. “How many students will you send me?” This question, very often, angers agents because they feel that schools are not appreciating the effort that they put into convincing a student to choose their school over somebody else’s. Such questions also contradict school representatives who then go on to say that “our students are family” or “students are more than just a number at our school”.

Let’s take the example of a school that is looking for education agents in the UK and during the initial meeting the school representative asks an agent “How many students will you send me?” At this point, the message you are conveying is that, in fact, students are numbers for your organisation, and that tends to send negative vibes and start off any potential partnership on the wrong foot. From our experience, we can guarantee that there is little hope for this school in question to strike a partnership with the agent in front of them.

Fees

Another interesting point to look at is that of education agent fees. This point is normally discussed at the beginning of every partnership between a school and an agent and this normally revolves around the idea of ‘who is going to pay for what’ in terms of marketing material, printing of brochures etc.

Here we will once again highlight the importance of communication. Just because something was agreed between both parties at the start of the relationship, does not mean that things have to remain the same forever.

In conclusion, when education providers are looking for education agents it is important that they are aware of these points so that nothing comes as a surprise during the initial stages of the conversation.

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