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Interviewing Markus Badde - ICEF

Published on Friday, March 24, 2017

Markus Badde is certainly someone who does not need any introductions in our field. For many years he has developed the ICEF brand, so that nowadays his company offers services to every player from every corner of the world within the education travel industry. In this interview we're going back to the roots of ICEF, to see how it started and to find out more about the ethos of the company and those behind it.


When and how did ICEF start?


ICEF's roots in international education go back to the 1960s when my father Karl Badde, a linguist and pioneering educator, established a chain of language schools called "Polyglot" around the Middle East. In 1991, we entered the conference and exhibition industry by forming ICEF (International Consultants for Education and Fairs). The rest is history as they say but it is something we are very proud of. Tens of thousand of educators, service providers and agents have connected through ICEF and there have been literally hundreds of thousands of meetings conducted, leading to most probably millions of students being placed in an institution abroad.


You choose the words "Connect. Recruit. Grow." as your slogan. How does ICEF help the education travel industry to achieve this?


ICEF connects educators, education agents, work & travel professionals, and industry service providers to key markets and networks worldwide by organising networking events and providing student recruitment market intelligence. Student recruitment is at the core of what we do and all ICEF products are designed to help people connect and grow in one way or another.


You have recently published "Beyond the Horizon" and in the foreword to the journal you state, "Beyond the Horizonaims to help educators consider the trends that will significantly impact our industry over the next few years." How does it achieve this, and how can industry players get a copy of the journal?


Beyond the Horizons was a partnership with Barton Carlyle in which we assembled a team of leaders in international education to give their opinions on the major issues that will impact international education in the coming years. Three themes emerged which we explore in detail: competition, technology, and risk. One of the most interesting components of the journal is where we ask international educators "What keeps you up at night?" The answers are diverse and reflect what many of us in the industry have on our minds.  It makes for a good read!


The journal can be downloaded for free at:


You also speak of ICEF's two new services - ICEF Mentor and ICEF Achieve. Could you briefly tell us what they are and who can benefit from them?


ICEF Mentor and ICEF Achieve are part of the ICEF Educator Development and Advisory Services. Many international education programmes wish to attract and retain international students but often lack the knowledge and expertise to do this effectively.


ICEF Mentor provides a detailed examination of an institution's international programme processes.  It examines marketing and recruitment, as well as admissions and student services, and helps educators build on their strengths and improve their weaknesses.


ICEF Achieve is a programme in partnership with Barton Carlyle and provides bespoke consulting services to help international educators achieve their goals. The core products provide help in the following areas:

Internationalisation strategies

International recruitment audits

Risk management strategies

Market intelligence/market strategies


I strongly believe that as student recruitment becomes increasingly more competitive it is essential that educators have a clear strategy in place to be successful. ICEF Educator Development and Advisory Services pair those needing this type of help with an experienced international educator who can provide it.


ICEF is clearly not just workshops - apart from the services mentioned above, what other services can our readers, schools, agents and service providers, benefit from?


First of all, we publish ICEF Monitor, a dedicated market intelligence resource for the international education industry.  We deliver industry news, research, interviews, presentation files, infographics, as well as best practice tips and trends on a daily basis- all with a firm focus on international student recruitment. This is a free service that currently has over 41 000 subscribers in more than 170 countries.  To receive ICEF Monitor you can subscribe here: 


CourseFinders (our only student-facing ICEF product) helps students find their perfect language school quickly and easily online.  CourseFinders brings together students, schools and agents and ensures that student enquires are matched with schools and agents that can provide the training and experience a student is looking for. CourseFinders also publishes student reviews so prospective students can validate their choices through the words of their peers.


Coursefinders can be found here:


ICEF Media is a team of industry professionals specialising in video production and promotion specifically for education. Video is key to conveying your value proposition and showing the student experience at a school. ICEF is well positioned to provide expertise in creating and delivering this content.


Last but not least is Agent Training. For quite a few years now I have made it a personal goal to raise the quality and credibility of the agent space. ICEF Agent Training Courses provide practical training to support the development of agents around the world.


There are two types of ICEF Agent Training Courses:

1) Professional Courses that provide practical, professional training for agency-based international student recruitment counsellors, testing their knowledge of the industry, key destinations, fundamental skills and daily operations.

2) Destination Courses that support the professional development of agents wishing to specialise in a major study destination (Canada, the USA and Ireland).


Your organisation does, however, remain synonymous with high-quality industry workshops. What is it, in your opinion, that makes your workshops so sought-after?


For me it comes down to two things, the ICEF product and the ICEF team. People know that when they come to an ICEF event every detail is looked after. The agents are carefully screened, the venue is high class and well prepared, and the schedule is meticulously planned.  I am quite a detail oriented person and I always insist that our operations are run that way as well. However, the most important aspect that makes our workshops what they are is the fantastic ICEF team. I am very lucky to have an amazing group of professionals working with me, many of whom have been with ICEF for more than a decade. When you come to an ICEF event you will often see clients and ICEF staff hugging when they see each other. These personal connections lead to better relationships, better service, and an overall better experience for everybody involved!

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