Bethan Norris, Senior Editor of StudyTravel Magazine
Opinion... from the Senior Editor
The role of agents within international education has always been difficult to quantify, with stories about a few rogue agencies likely to have a disproportionately large negative ripple effect on the whole industry. Which makes Australia's recent initiative to record and share agent performance indicators so exciting as it gives official recognition of the work of agencies and quantifies their contribution to international student enrolment.

The Australian Department of Education and Training has been recording the involvement of agents in student recruitment since 2012 and now wants to review the data and allow access to Australian education providers who have sought out the necessary approval from their agent partners. The information gathered will allow institutions to view what percentage of students recruited by individual agencies complete their course of studies at the original institution, with actions such as non compliance with visa regulations, transfer to another provider, and complete cessation of studies logged as an incomplete Confirmation of Enrolment.

The implications of this information will be significant to the industry as a whole, particularly in countries such as the USA, where negative attitudes towards the ethical stance of education agents continue to rise (see this news story from April 13, 2017). For the first time, providers will be able to quantify the agent contribution towards study travel for an entire destination and it is very interesting that the DET has already revealed that the vast majority of agents sending student to Australia play a valuable role within the international education industry.

I look forward to seeing more data from this initiative and hope it will be shared by the wider industry in the future.

Issues of quality and how to ensure best practices - by agents and school - was also a topic of discussion at last week's Eaqual's conference in Latvia, attended by our very own Matthew Knott. The conference included an agent discussion panel, where agents highlighted the different national regulations that they worked under in order to protect consumers, and pointed out that schools also had a role to play in their customer service operations in order to ensure the best outcome for students and agents.

Clearly, the old days of unregulated agencies and schools are long behind us and students can these days feel very confident in their choices due to the hard work of agency and school organisations that have sought to introduce best practice regulations into their membership criteria. The continued work of governments, such as the initiative introduced in Australia, can only enhance this confidence further in the future.


By Bethan Norris

Senior Editor