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Airc Session Universities Use Of Agents


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Session first presented at 2010 AIRC Conference, intended to help universities understand what agents expect and what agents bring to a partnership

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Airc Session Universities Use Of Agents

  1. 1. What canan agent do for you?
  2. 2. What to consider when partnering with an agent •  Kinds of agents •  What to expect from an agent •  What an agent expects from a university •  Are agents right for you? –  SWOT Analysis •  What kind of agents are right for you? 2
  3. 3. BackgroundMark Shay is an entrepreneur with a long history ofhelping higher education institutions recruit and retainstudents, serving thousands of academic customers inhis 20-year career. He is well known for balancing thenon-commercial spirit of educators with the commercialrealities of operating efficiently and effectively.•  Regional Director, North America, IDP Education•  VP Enrollment Management, Schiller International University•  Chief Academic Liaison, EducationDynamics•  Co-Founder, Academic Analytics, LLC•  Founder, Educational Directories Unlimited (EDU) – – – –  StudentProspector, EDU Internet Strategies,,, 3
  4. 4. Why Listen to Me? (Stuff I’ve Sold)•  Poster distribution services•  Advertisements in 11 different university s Directory of Classes•  Web links in online academic directories•  Web site development services•  Online advertising media buying services•  Online marketing consulting services•  Academic Brand Strategies•  CRM (student inquiry management) systems•  Internet generated student leads•  Database of student profiles•  Association partnerships•  Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index•  University admissions•  Student placement services But ultimately, what I really sell… 4
  5. 5. What really you sell is you!•  Because no matter how good the product,"•  no matter how great the value,"•  if they don t trust you,"•  they won t buy from you." 5
  6. 6. Different Kinds of AgentsNo two agents are really the same•  Sole-proprietor•  First generation family-business•  Licensee/franchise•  Multiple generation family-business•  Single country, multi-office corporation•  Multiple country, multi-office corporation•  Global, multi-channel integrated solutions provider 6
  7. 7. Agent of the school, of the student, of both?To a family seeking assistance, they look for an agent. Agent is ageneric term for counselor, consultant, advisor.•  Agent of the school = recruiter –  No student fees, independent salesperson•  Agent of the student = consultant –  No university fees/commissions•  Middle ground? –  Engagement fees from both sides 7
  8. 8. What to expect from an agent•  Student recruiting – discover, guide and lead to enrollment•  Lead conversion – local follow-up, home visits, work with families (your source or the agents)•  Application completion - document attestation, credential verification, language translation•  Yield improvement – prepare for visa process, pre-departure, transit to campus, pre-departure orientation, post-arrival support•  Logistical support - Local representative to facilitate university ties to local market, make arrangements for visiting staff of university•  Backup to campus student services – Agent who speaks the same language as parents can be a lifeline if all else fails•  Local market intelligence•  Local extension of your brand 8
  9. 9. What an agent expects from a university•  Product information – full details on program offerings, competitiveness of individual programs, lifestyle of campus. “Fam” trips to campus, literature, office decorations, spirit wear•  Training – ongoing updates as to processes and systems plus guidance on how to address university competitor questions•  Lead referral – email inquiries, fair/expo inquiries•  Official recognition – formal documentation of agent status, web site links, university visits to agent offices/events, inclusion in local expos•  Special considerations – applicant pre-screening, preferred application processing, fee waivers•  Pricing advantage – discounts, scholarships, offers better than what the university offers directly to students 9
  10. 10. Risk Analysis•  Strengths – local “boots on ground”, low financial risk, competitive advantage•  Weaknesses – control of message, accountability and academic integrity, lost opportunity costs•  Opportunities – discovery of new markets, zero cost branding, entrepreneurial impact on recruiting and even product/program development•  Threats – damage to reputation, illegal recruiting tactics, immigration scams, loss of I-20 granting status, pay for something you get for free 10
  11. 11. Agent of whom?•  With no reliable source of information that they can understand, [students and families] turn to a motley collection of agents who purport to offer the inside track to American colleges. A Chinese colleague recently told me about a friend who paid $10,000 to an agent who guaranteed her child five acceptances from among "the top 100 universities" in America. Such promises are standard procedure among the agents, who create or doctor transcripts, manufacture essays and letters of recommendation, and package everything in a neat bundle. Americans would call this fraud. In China, it is simply the procedure for applying to U.S. institutions. - Commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education 11
  12. 12. Consequence: Somebody else is promoting you•  In China, over 95% of families contract an agent to assist in their application to a western university. In India, over 85%.•  Agent is a known and trusted business model from a known and trusted local entity. Often respected local businessmen who have a history of serving the community.•  Sources of students may be unclear, multiple tiers of agents, recruiting tactics uncontrolled/unapproved, finders fees vs. commissions•  University recruiter visits are rare, their message unclear and their academic values not well understood by families, especially first-in-family international students.•  Rankings have more impact on consumers overseas as the brands of colleges and universities are now well established. Private , Liberal Arts and Colleges have very different connotations overseas.•  Better to try to control your message or leave it to the others? 12
  13. 13. Which agents are best for me?•  Agent sophistication should be in-line with your organization’s sophistication –  University experience versus agent philosophy. If you are new to international recruiting do you look for hand holding individual agent or packaged system large agency? –  Airport pick-up test.•  Understand the money motivation of agent –  Quotas, bonus structure, affects of finances on activity and loyalty –  What ancillary services are offered to school, student•  Agent’s reputation and brand –  Client turnover –  Multi-country choices, drivers, marketing strategy –  Portfolio of clients, advertising examples, expo testimonials 13
  14. 14. Thank YouMark ShayHigher Education Sales and Marketing 14