Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine
Opinion... from the News Editor

I was honoured to be among the 6,000+ delegates at the European Association for International Education (EAIE) conference in Seville last week, another huge reminder of the scale of the industry that we work in.

EAIE welcomes professionals from across the higher education spectrum and covers a number of strands within its remit; the marketing and recruitment segment is most closely aligned to our daily work and coverage, but also admissions, exchanges, refugees, teaching & curriculum, and leadership & strategy are catered for.  


I was also very pleased to bump into a few agents at EAIE and enjoyed getting their perspectives. Some higher education-focused events that I have attended in the past are guilty of existing in a bit of a bubble, talking about marketing and recruitment but oblivious to the reality of how many students will arrive at their institutions. If educators or administrators think snapchat, Instagram or such like will provide more students that are also well-prepared culturally and administratively than the agent-based recruitment model, they are going to be disappointed!


Anyway, one startling statistic that emerged during the conference - from a report conducted by StudyPortals in partnership with EAIE - was the astonishing growth of English-taught bachelor programmes in non-English speaking destinations across Europe in the last decade; growing from what one contributor described as a "novelty" handful ten years ago to a suite of 3,000 programmes last year. Look out for my news story on this report in the next couple of days.


This is an interesting dynamic for the international student recruitment business, for agents, for students and for institutions in the 'traditional' destinations.


If, for example, we have a range of high-ranking universities in the Netherlands offering English-taught undergraduate degrees at half the cost of institutions in the UK that may or may not rank as highly, which would be the logical choice?


It goes without saying that international student recruitment - or at the least the much-vaunted but less clearly defined goal of internationalisation - is one of the predominant reasons for the spread of English-taught courses.


A number of questions emerge at this juncture: will these institutions work with agents? Well certainly some are already; will they achieve recruitment goals if they don't? And what about the virtually free model that some countries such as Germany have? Is this a threat to the UK, USA, Australia et al, and by extension to the agency business? Or will agents increasingly find ways to work with institutions that can't offer commission, perhaps by charging service fees to students?


Another interesting session at EAIE was on the advantages and disadvantages or partnering with third-party English language pathway providers. It was made very clear during this session that agents are the predominant channel of student recruitment through such arrangements, and a cursory show of hands around the room revealed that several of the European university attendees were considering establishing English language pathway provision at their institutions, suggesting that indirectly at least, a number of schools are looking to the agent market.


You can also read my overview of the EAIE conference here, including reports on the thought-provoking opening and closing plenary speeches.


Elsewhere this week, we have news that Australia's international education growth shows no signs of slowing down; New Zealand is considering closing most of its offshore visa application centres following the boom in online applications; and a report from the recent StudyWorld conference, including my presentation on young learner trends.


Don't forget you can see the news as well as read it at STtv News!


Have a great week!



Matthew Knott

News Editor