In addition to creating the National Code of Ethical Practice and enhancing the British Council Training Suite, the third key recommendations for the Quality Assurance Framework was the creation of a Good Practice Guide for UK Providers Using Education Agents.
Where the National Code is designed to maintain standards and highlight good practice among education agents, the Good Practice Guide is designed to do the same for education providers.
Extensive research from BUILA and UUKI highlighted that there is a lot of very good practice already in existence among UK education providers, but there is also room for improvement.
The Good Practice Guide has been developed based on insights from education providers, agents, counsellors and students. These valuable perspectives from agents and students appear throughout the guide, helping institutions to keep the student experience central to their agent management practices.
The Good Practice Guide has been created in a modular fashion, outlining best practice at every stage of the education agent partnership lifecycle.
The specific modules include:
- Strategy: Selecting and appointing education agents
- Training: Training your education agents
- Planning: Working with your education agents
- Supporting: Optimising your education agents
- Reviewing: Assessing and recognising your education agents
- Financials: Paying your education agents
- Fundamentals: Governance, staffing, systems and business intelligence
- Templates and annexes: Due diligence checklists, review scorecards, etc.
Feedback from education agents told us that they would like their partnerships with education providers to focus more on:
- collaborative planning and joint expectation setting – working together as partners
- varied performance metrics (e.g. quality, market intelligence) not just enrolment targets
- student experience and outcomes
- creating clear pathways for students to provide feedback on their experience of using education agents
- institutions publishing the details of contracted education agents on their website
- giving clarity to students about the commercial relationship between providers and agents – not disclosing specific amounts, but being clear that there is a commercial relationship here.
All of these points have been addressed in the Good Practice Guide which will help more institutions deliver best practice and strengthen their relationships with their agents.
As institutions, you are encouraged to embed as much good practice as possible (within the constraints of your individual institutions) in your work with education agents and counsellors, leading to a more collaborative partnership and ultimately a better experience for our international students.
The Good Practice Guide was initially written with the HE sector in mind, and so far over 300 university staff members have completed workshop to learn more about how to best implement the recommendations from the Good Practice Guide.
Whilst a large amount of the content in the guide can be directly transferred to other areas of the UK education sector, there are plans in place to publish a version of the Good Practice Guide specifically designed for FE providers, schools and EFL providers as well as an agent-facing version to help agents build an understanding of what they might expect from a partnership with a UK education institution.