The role of education agents in the marketised international higher education sector

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkResearch


Education agents are organisations and/or individuals who provide a range of services such as counselling potential international students, preparing application documents and supporting institutions with marketing promotion whilst charging commissions from institutions and/or service fees from students(BUILA, 2021). In the marketised international higher education sector, education agents are widely used by both universities overseas and international students (Nikula, Raimo & West, 2023). In the UK, for example, education agents contribute approximately £11.88 billion to the UK economy each year” (BUILA, 2021). Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled institutions and prospective international students to more rely on education agents (ICEF Monitor, 2022). It thus can be seen that education agents play an increasingly important role in international student recruitment and mobility. However, apart from education agents’ pragmatic functions, few studies have examined what the wide use of education agents implies for international students, universities overseas, policymakers, and the international higher education sector. To respond to this gap, this webinar reports on the findings of a project investigating the role of education agents in Chinese agent-user students’ overseas university applications from both education agents’ and Chinese agent-user students’ perspectives. Chinese agent-user students refer to Chinese students who use an education agent to apply for overseas programmes. This project illuminates Chinese agent-user students’ overseas university application experiences, highlights the most valued services provided by education agents, and lays bare uncertainties, inequalities, and miscomprehension interwoven with international students’ university applications. Therefore, I call upon policymakers, universities, education agents, researchers and other stakeholders to cast attention to issues of educational inequities in access to international higher education and also to conduct more studies for improvements in practices in international student recruitment campaigns.
Period23 Nov 2023
Held atCentre for Global Higher Education, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational