Agreggator transparency a “challenge”


Agreggator transparency a “challenge”

The lack of references from sub-agents is a concern for universities working with aggregator platforms, institutional representatives highlighted at a recent ICEF conference, where agent regulation and best practice was discussed. 

Panellists discussed aggregator platforms and agent best practice. Photo: ICEF.

Aggregators reduce the burden on institutions by automating the admissions process

“The best way to check if the agency is [a] good quality agency is to get references because, otherwise, you’re opening to everyone,” said Giuliana Bonvini, international sales manager at University College Dublin, speaking at the Berlin event. “People who might claim they are agencies, but they are not.”

She added that platforms appear to be unwilling to implement reference checks because they are focused on volume. 

“They don’t publish who their sub-agents are, they won’t necessarily always tell you how many sub-agents they work with or how many are active or non-active as well,” added Sara Sandford, international education specialist at Edified. 

“It’s just that extra level of challenge of how much do you want to trust that the aggregators are doing what they saying they’re doing?”

Aggregator platforms regularly highlight the quality assurance controls they have in place, including vetting applications. 

The panellists also discussed how aggregator platforms have supported the evolution of international student admissions. In particular, they noted that these companies reduce the burden on institutions by automating the admissions process and giving students access to instant information. 

“That’s a big advancement, that’s something that a few years ago we wouldn’t have,” said Bonvini. 

Sandford added that aggregators allow smaller agencies, who may not have references yet, to get their businesses off the ground and enable students to access more options. 

“It means that good agents have access to good universities without spending years and years and years building up those relationships individually,” she said. 

Speakers at the event also discussed developments in agent regulation as Australia considers introducing new reforms

“We need self-regulation which is industry-based”

Melanie Macfarlane, CEO of MM Migration & Recruitment, called for the Australian industry to introduce its own self-accreditation program.  

“We need self-regulation which is industry-based,” she said, adding that government involvement could lead to over-regulation. 

In the same panel, Mark Falvo, general manager at Future Students, said, ideally, agents need to take a holistic approach to student journeys, supporting students through their studies and remaining as a “bridge between the student and the institution post enrolment”.

“Education providers just don’t always have the capacity to give that high level of individual service to each international student,” added Macfarlane. 

“What happens – and it happened more so even during Covid – is that education agents really provide that mental health and wellbeing support to students.” 

Speaking about aggregators, panellists predicted they will take more of a role in future in providing student support services throughout enrollment.

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