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Joint Market Development with Agents in China – a Third Party Perspective

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These slides are from the ICEF 2014 Beijing Workshop, given by Cecilia Fan from ChinaHigherEducation.org. Ms Fan explores the relationship between foreign education providers and student recruitment agents in China. She provides an analysis of agents’ capabilities, networks, limitations, and the ways in which universities can collaborate with student recruitment agents to work more effectively and build better outcomes for branding and student recruitment in China.

For more information on recruiting in China, please see our article "Making sense of China’s social and mobile web" here: http://bit.ly/1tnoaFO. And for more news and research on international student recruitment please visit http://www.icefmonitor.com, subscribe for free daily or weekly updates, and follow us on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/icefmonitor.

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Joint Market Development with Agents in China – a Third Party Perspective

  1. 1. Joint Market Development Agents in China with – a Third Party Perspective By Cecilia Fan, Publisher
  2. 2. Quick Facts About China’s Post- secondary Education Market (I) • 45 million high school students (including VET) enrolled (31,000 schools) 7 million university students graduate each year 2000 universities, independent institutes and VET providers • • • 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, direct-managed municipal cities More than 400,000 Chinese students studying abroad each year More than 1000 joint programs and institutes approved by the MOE 4 • •
  3. 3. Quick Facts About China’s Post- secondary Education Market (II) Pathway/foundation market: US$1.6 billion (RMB9 billion) Language, Exam and Study Abroad Training Market: US$5 billion (RMB30 billion) Commission to agents: US$800 million Chinese students spend abroad: US $40 billion (15% in the US) 350,000 students returned to China to seek employment in 2013 • • • • •
  4. 4. Foreign Education Providers in – Objectives in China China • • Student recruitment for foreign campus Joint programs and campus delivery programs in China Credit transfer, articulation and pathway foundation programs Student and faculty exchanges Joint R&D and publications Internship and employment relations Chinese alumni relations • • • • •
  5. 5. Quick Facts about Agents in China (I) • More than 400 fully licensed agents in China • • • • 2000 + Agents Agents Agents agents covering China market size geographical coverage nature (agents vs. vary vary vary in in in education provider) Agents vary in revenue structure B2C agents vs. B2B agents Agents’ online and offline recruiting • • •
  6. 6. Quick Facts about Agents in China (II) • Large student recruitment agencies can represent over 100 universities and high schools Large student recruitment agencies can send thousands of students to one single study destination, and hundreds of students to one single university Agents can spent millions of USD on marketing There are different models of business operations and networks among agents in China The landscape of recruitment has shifted to focus on digital recruitment, with agents now receiving more and more enquiries online • • • •
  7. 7. Typical Barriers Faced By Foreign Education Providers in At Entry Stage: China • • • Limited Limited Limited knowledge of the China market resources to cover China marketing budget At • • • • Interim Stages: Low brand awareness Difficulties satisfying recruitment Student quality issues targets Stronger competition from other study destinations universities Difficulty evaluating options Over-reliance on third parties and • •
  8. 8. Tips For Selecting and Working with Agents in China (I) Understand what your institution wants to achieve and clarify this with your potential agents Clearly identify your institution’s current difficulties and determine whether these issues should be resolved internally or with the help of agents • • • Understand who your agents are and what they want of their relationship with your institution out Note that: • Who you think you are is different from how the market views you What you want to achieve is different from what your agents want to achieve •
  9. 9. Tips For Selecting and Working with Agents in China (II) • • What are your What are your How do you fit agents’ standard practices? agents’ short-term and medium term goals? into their goals? • What motivates your agents? How do they motive their front line staff to promote your university? What have you offered to keep their interest? Why did you select each of your agents? How does their combined coverage fulfill your needs? If you are selecting agents for both marketing and recruiting purposes, how do you set appropriate evaluation criteria? Have you benchmarked your results against other universities? • •
  10. 10. Strengths of Agents in China (I) Have existing, established operations and networks in China Can cover second- and third-tier cities quickly and can provide direct consultation Can provide additional consultation services such as information about visas, immigration policy, etc. Can combine their marketing budgets to run online and off-line promotions more effectively than individual universities (to a certain extent) Can provide multiple choices to student applicants Agents are often responsible for implementation once an interested party wants to become an applicant • • • • • •
  11. 11. Strengths and Limitations of Agents in China (II) Agents have established operations and networks in China, and can cover a wider area more quickly • • • Working with agents gives you a quick kick start Conducting recruiting in china maybe more cost effective Agents represent multiple universities and multiple study destinations Commissions are attractive to agents, but efficient cooperation with overseas institutions is also important Agents’ networks and coverage often do not completely align with those of your institution • •
  12. 12. Strengths and Limitations of Agents in China (II) Agents can combine their marketing budgets to run online and off-line promotions more effectively than individual universities (to a certain extent) • Your institution may be able to leverage agencies’ media and marketing contacts However, education providers need to be clear that agencies’ marketing budget is first to promote their brand, not your brand Share your institution’s marketing strategy and align with your agents’ marketing activities to maximize output and avoid unclear messages • • it • Take responsibility to establish your institution’s brand in partnership with agents.
  13. 13. CHE’s View of the Relationship between Education Providers and Agents (I) Agents: • Consumers are happy to work with agents (particularly prospective undergraduates and high school students) Agents can influence the market to a certain extent but increased transparency is reducing this influence Some well-established agents have accumulated in- market experience and large client bases Agents are actively looking for ways to evolve and new agents are working to increase their market share First-tier city consumers rely less on local agents; second- and third-tier cities are still reliant on agents. • • • •
  14. 14. CHE’s View of the Relationship between Education Providers and Agents (II) Foreign Education Providers: • • Are often disadvantaged during market entry phase Education providers with existing partnerships reduce their reliance on agents over time Education providers with higher rankings and/or more marketing also reducing their reliance on agents over time •
  15. 15. CHE’s View of the Relationship between Education Providers and Agents (III) Common mistakes when working with agents • Lack of clear China objectives internally, resulting in management of agencies becoming a silo operation within the university A segregated implementation team results in underutilized channels and resources Difficulties making decisions when there are short- term benefits vs. long-term losses Lack of a systematic evaluation system Not taking full responsibility for brand promotion and marketing • • • •
  16. 16. Key Take-Aways for Foreign Education Providers • Understand who your agents are and what kind of networks they have in their distribution and promotional channels Use agents that match your needs and fill with the gaps in your knowledge and resources Make selecting, working with and evaluating agents part of your overall China strategy Share part of your China strategy with agents, be open to their input and verify their suggestions Take responsibility for marketing in China. This should not be solely your agents’ responsibilities. Personal relationships are important but a matrix approach is crucial in China • • • • •
  17. 17. Research | Analysis | Advisory www.chinahighereducation.org info@chinahighereducation.org

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