How to work with agents and measure their performance?
Agents and educators should work hand in hand. It is important that you supply agents with required information at all times, so they can represent you competently. Please remember that agents must face parents and returning students and if their placements turn out poorly, their reputation and consequently their business will suffer. It is therefore fair to say that your success is their success, and vice versa.
You will achieve the best results by building solid and long-term partnerships with the agents with whom you choose to work. You should take the same approach to agents as you do to any one of your staff members. STEP 1 — finding and vetting agents
Starting the journey of working with agents can be daunting. However, there are many resources available to you. It is essential that you do proper due diligence and ensure that the agents you are working with have been vetted and are reputable. Having a set procedure and criteria for finding and selecting agents is the key. STEP 2 — providing training and marketing support
It is important to sign a contract with agents and provide them with training and marketing support. This will help your agents better understand your institution's key selling points and have the appropriate knowledge of your programs and admissions process. STEP 3 — building sustainable and long-term partnerships
Successful relationships between schools and their agent partners are key drivers in meeting institutional (and consequently national) recruitment targets, in terms of the number, diversity, and quality of students. Relationship management begins on day one and needs to continue throughout the course of the agreement. It is crucial for agents and education partners to work collaboratively, clarify responsibilities, and have ongoing, open communication and retraining processes.
Remember, it may take a considerable amount of time for an agent to start sending students to your institution. That is why it is important to focus on long-term relationships and stay patient.
As the use of agents increases, new questions and ideas are arising regarding best practices in agent-educator relationships and how to protect the interests of students. International education is clearly taking steps towards greater transparency and improved practice, and it seems likely that the expanded use of education agents will only accelerate this process.
There are a number of considerations and options for institutions in establishing a framework for evaluating agent performance. As with student performance, there are a number of objectively measurable characteristics that can help assess an individual agency. For example:
- number of students referred;
- yield — number of applications vs. number of enrolments;
- return on direct investment;
- student feedback;
- industry accreditation or association membership (s);
- industry qualifications.
Once such elements are being reliably tracked within an agent evaluation framework, institutions are able to observe patterns for individual agencies. Similarly, it becomes easier to correlate agency performance with student performance Author:
Sergey Krasnyanskiy, Director CIS, ICEF.