Navitas Agent Partners – working together to support students

International education agents play an essential role in ensuring Navitas and other organizations continue to provide life-changing learning opportunities for students around the world. Around 90% of our international students use an agent to help them find the right course in the right city, and navigate complex application and visa processes. They quite rightly expect their agents to be education, career and destination experts.

With heightened scrutiny over unscrupulous agent practices, including a recent parliamentary inquiry report in Australia, it has never been more imperative to ensure our agent business partners protect the best interests of our students and their families. This demands a robust agent management strategy.

We have agreements with 2,500 experienced and professional agents across 124 countries, all working hard to ensure prospective students receive the most accurate and transparent advice. Our goal is to give them the tools and guidelines they need, so students can make an informed decision about where they want to live, what they want to study, and how much it will cost.

Guidelines to protect our integrity

All education agents must understand and abide by the relevant national codes of conduct in each country their partner provider operates within. This includes everything from Australia’s ESOS Act and National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas 2018 to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Manitoba International Education Act, and more.

These policies share common principles for providing reliable information, acting with integrity, and not engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct. To ensure our network of approved agents are aware of these regulations and cognisant of Navitas’ expectations, we have developed an identification, appointment, management and review process to ensure continuous due diligence. This is carried out face to face by a Navitas Area or Regional Manager, and via reference checks and industry feedback at the time of appointment.

At the initial appointment stage, due diligence also includes ensuring we don’t enter into an agreement with an agent engaged in dishonest or unethical practices, or who has provided unauthorised migration advice. This ensures their professional conduct will maintain the integrity, brand image, and reputation of Navitas and our university partners.

We also have clear exit strategies in place so we can immediately terminate our relationship if an educational advisor is found to be engaging in false or misleading recruitment practices.

Training to ensure reliable advice

With so many different regulations governing their practice, we recognise how challenging it can be for agents to stay up to date with changes. That’s why we provide regular training including in-country workshops and conferences, virtual sessions via video conference, agency office visits by Navitas staff, and invite agents to visit our colleges and campuses. We have also developed a Navitas Accredited Counsellor program, a centrally administered program designed to provide a clear and reportable path to training and certifying individual agent staff who engage in student counselling.

With a significant global presence, Navitas leverages off its Source Country Office network to support our agents. We have staff located in 28 different offices around the world, drawing on a network of over 200 in-market staff. This team is accountable for providing the training that keeps agents informed of the ever-increasing variety of program choices and pathway options available to students so that they, in turn, can provide accurate, relevant and up to date information to their student customers.

The Navitas Academy runs in-house training and development programs for all Navitas recruitment staff on the relevant government requirements, and ensures they consistently carry out our internal processes. This ensures we have a reportable and transparent record of all activities undertaken with and for the agent network.

Systems to track data and insights

These processes are underpinned by the increasing amount of data now available, as we explored recently in The Value of Good Advice. It allows us to benchmark and analyse agent performance, understand why some partners perform better than others, and make more strategic decisions about these partnerships.

By using Salesforce, an integrated CRM platform that offers a single shared view of every student and agent, we are able to capture and manage all agent data and integrate it into our business operating systems. This allows us to better manage pipeline, activity records and reporting. Our colleges are also currently implementing StudyLink Connect to further support pipeline management and provide streamlined, transparent, real-time communication with agents.

The innovations Navitas has been able to develop around working with agents are possible because of the scale, experience and physical global footprint we have. Increasingly we can leverage these advantages to assist our university partners manage the risks and opportunities associated with international student recruitment. This is important in a world where major destination countries are increasingly focussed on risk mitigation as central to their student visa regimes.

While Navitas has a legal obligation to ensure our education agents are ethical and honest – it’s also just good business practice. Agents have and will always play an important role in our ongoing success, and protect the integrity of our reputation. Ultimately, we are both working towards the same goal: to give more students access to the opportunities international education creates.

About The Author

Tom Hands is the General Manager – Global Recruitment at Navitas. Tom oversees all Navitas recruitment  and operations across Navitas’ 29 source country offices around the world from the company’s Hong Kong office. Tom has worked at Navitas for 14 years, originally at Navitas’ colleges at Griffith and Curtin Universities, before managing the China and Greater China regions from 2007 and, more recently, the company’s global recruitment operations. He has extensive experience in areas of international student recruitment, visa policy, university marketing and channel partner recruitment. Tom holds 2 Bachelor degrees from the University of Queensland in Business (International Business) and Arts (Chinese).

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