Analysis of data collected in October-November 2023 has identified close to 40 agencies – with offices in the country – that are working with at least 20 universities.
AusEd-UniEd International and IDP Education are the agencies in Australia that work with the most universities in the country, with 40 partners.
The agencies are also listed as a partner in other markets, such as in India, China, Malaysia, Egypt, Philippines and Nepal, among others.
KOKOS International is also listed by 39 universities. They are directing students to the agency if they are seeking assistance applying from a partner located in Australia. La Trobe University is the only of the 40 universities not pointing students to one of the agency’s offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
AAET – StudyCo, AECC Global and iae GLOBAL have the next largest list of university partners, with the online data identifying 37 universities working with the companies.
The Australian College Information Centre, AOJI Education Australia, Education International Cooperation (EIC), Latino American Education Holdings (LAE), A&A International Education/ AAintl Education, BaDa Education Centre, Global Reach, International Group for Educational Consultancy, Austlink Education, Yes Education Group, AMET Education Pty Ltd, AMS Bridge Blue Pty Ltd/BlueBridge, SOL Edu and PFEC Global are all listed by more than 30 universities.
The analysis reveals the sheer size of the country’s onshore agency market, with many agencies headquartered in student source countries also maintaining offices within Australia itself.
Additionally, there are around 270 agencies and counselling companies onshore that are limited to one university partner.
Southern Cross University, Curtin University and Torrens University are the universities listing the most agent partners located in Australia, while the University of Melbourne has the fewest.
Melbourne works with 11 agents across Australia, including IDP in six locations, AUG, KOKOS and LAE in five, EIC in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, as well as AAET-StudyCo, AAintl Education, Aoji Education, ACIC, Australian Option and FPI.
Southern Cross has engaged EduCo Sydney to operate its marketing, recruitment and agent management of external agents for its Sydney, Melbourne and Perth branch campuses. It lists the largest number of agents in Australia.
It is possible that universities working with aggregator platforms – such as the 15 or so working with Adventus – as well as those working with recruiters using sub-agent networks are receiving applications from agencies not listed on their sites.
EduCo and Southern Cross have been particularly transparent by naming each of the agencies the master agent (in this case EduCo) collaborates with.
Stakeholders have predicted that student recruitment is likely to be outsourced to private companies going ahead, as demand for outsourcing solutions have risen in recent years.
The analysis carried out by The PIE looked into 40 universities in Australia that display agencies that they work with online, as prescribed in theEducation Services for Overseas Students Act 2000.
The University of Divinity was not included in the research as it does not share a list of agent partners. Its 30+ partners are from churches and religious orders.
The analysis lists only the number of partnerships and does not identify which agencies recruit the most students. This data is much more difficult to come by.
The Australian government has spoken of “shonks seeking to exploit [students] and undermine [Australia’s] international education system” in the past year.
However, the sector has pointed out that the vast majority of agents work ethically, emphasising that a small minority have attracted negative headlines which is damaging to international education’s reputation.
At The PIE Live Australia last year, the then CEO of English Australia, Brett Blacker, (who has recently joined Duolingo as managing director of Australia and New Zealand) highlighted that“International education [sometimes] gets a bad rap and unfortunately, education agents take that more than than anyone.”
Deputy vice-chancellor for Global at theUniversity of Newcastle, Kent Anderson, noted that international education agents are “the most critical person in the sector”.
This is part of a series of articles on Australian higher education’s agency partners.