CHINA’S AGENCY BOOM
Ben Mack, AVP of international recruiting and marketing
at IES Abroad, has seen a similar trend: “We’ve been offering
a Spanish language program to our Chinese student market
for the last 12 months in Salamanca which has been incredibly
popular. When we launched it we knew it was filling a need,
but were pleasantly surprised by the demand.”
The community college market also holds potentially
new business avenues that have previously been overlooked
for agents to pursue, as does the burgeoning K-12 one that
many are now tapping into and the variety of new study
destinations that are coming to the fore.
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with particular disciplines. “For example, design programs in
Milan are popular,” he says.
For others though this shift has increased the pressure
– particularly as universities in places like the UK and US
seek to retain their profitable Chinese student populations.
Agents, as the gatekeepers and middlemen between stu-dents
and institutions, have tremendous influence.
One source working in the industry said some education
groups who work with universities to recruit for non-degree
programs, and even some universities themselves, have been
offering extra bonuses for agents who recruit students for
Last year’s China Education Expo was held in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu
and Guangzhou, attracting around 40,000 visitors
“The majority of agents focus on multiple destinations,
but a certain percentage specialise,” confirms Bonard’s
Skibickij. “I think the proportion of the latter group will
increase because they can offer a more expert, in-depth ser-vice
for the particular destinations that they choose. Other
destinations are now becoming more active in the Chinese
agent market, and are starting to compete with traditional
ones for market share. For example, the US has certainly
lost a fair amount of market share over the last few years.”
For some this is an opportunity. Canada in particular
has become a popular destination with Chinese students
over the last five years, notes global strategy firm LEK
Consulting’s Anip Sharma, as are destinations associated
are now becoming
more active in the
Chinese agent market “
them. In one case, the bonus was a free trip to Japan.
Less controversially, universities are also providing
training for agents to solidify ties. But they’re not alone.
Domestically, the government-supported Beijing Overseas
Study Service Association – which has seen membership
grow from 70 to over 300 in the last few years – has put on
regular events and sessions for agents in both China and
internationally since it launched in 2004.
Aside from the bi-annual BOSSA Agent Expo (also known
as the Beijing International Education Exhibition) and agent
trips and roadshows in the UAE, Ireland, the UK, Australia,
Malaysia and the US, it also hosted its first ever inter-associ-ation
conference last year.
“It was a summit discussing factors shaping the industry.
Smaller associations co-hosted alongside BOSSA, and se-veral
hundred Chinese international education professionals
attended,” explains its spokesperson Jon Santangelo.
“This occasion was not only the first national forum to
bring industry leaders and executives together, but the
largest of its kind in industry history.”
BOSSA connects educators abroad with member agents
through webinars that help introduce and train agents
around the country. Such initiatives have “proven to be a
cost-effective digital medium for those overseas, and for
agent members seeking specific kinds of programs abroad”.
PHOTO: IES ABROAD