Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers said; “Remember that time is money”.
It is fair to say that many education agents around the globe appreciate the above quote because in many markets agents do not charge fees for applicants who wish to apply for an overseas programme. This is not always the case and a lot of agents still charge fees for making applications to avoid time wasters and provide a better service to each client. However, the fact is that majority of agent’s revenue streams come from commission and are made after each successful intake. These commissions are what keep the agents, counsellors, branch managers, in country reps etc and many others working hard throughout the academic year to convert students for respective partners. Time is money and nobody can usually afford to work for nothing, unless of course you are a volunteer or have an alternative revenue stream.
Agent’s commission over the years has been seen as a dirty little secret that nobody can talk about or share with one another in the industry. The fact is without commission, agents would need to charge a fee to each and every applicant. Agent’s commission is a good thing and standard in many industries, it’s just that education is sometimes seen as being beneath such a practice, well it should not be. Education agents are highly valued stakeholders and can help universities in a huge variety of ways from building your brand in country to visa counselling your students thousands of miles away. Institutions need agents as much as agents need them.
Do some educational institutions use commission as a tool to help them recruit more? Of course they do. It would be counterproductive if they did not. However, this does not always guarantee results. The organisations that use a strategy by boosting commission might have some really difficult courses or locations to sell; they might have really high fees or are trying to break into a new market. The bottom line is that universities, colleges, schools etc should be looking more into what the costs are to run a programme and not just the number of students recruited. The commission being paid might actually be the surplus revenue on that course you are selling which is needed to increase services or other resources you offer so these organisations might actually be losing money. Increased commission and higher numbers of recruited students do not always guarantee a healthier bottom line.
Post Application Commission
In many markets, agents are only used for specific reasons and sometimes at the point of visa counselling to ensure the visa process is as smooth and easy as possible so as to avoid getting paper work wrong and being refused a visa. The last thing anyone wants is a visa refusal for an error in paperwork or a missed tick box. Do you pay full commission for visa counselling or do you limit this and pay post application commission? It is only fair to reflect your incentives based on the workload of an agent. If a counsellor has spent 12 months working on a student application from counselling them, gathering all documents, submitting the application, liaising back and forward with admissions to help them secure the offer letter and then secure a CAS etc, is it fair they receive the same commission for an agent who picks up a students who only needs visa counselling? I don’t think so but that’s your call.
If you need a review of your agent strategy, agent perfomance or want to build up a new portfolio of agents then contact MYIO for a chat. https://www.myinternationaloffice.co.uk/consultancy
I have come to the end of this one. Time is money! Back to work.
Author: Jamie Hastings, Director, MYIO LTD