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British Council: “Agents and schools play an increasing role in international undergraduate student recruitment”

The British Council has launched a new study into pathways for international undergraduate recruitment. The study analyses data from UCAS apply centres in the UK and overseas for the 2021/22 academic year. According to the report, institutions need a “strong understanding of different channels” to decide where to invest resources and meet targets.

The research suggests almost half of all applicants submitted individual applications directly through UCAS’s online system. By comparison, only 12% applied through agents. However, BC believe this number could be higher since many students placing individual applications through UCAS may have received prior advice from agents.

In recent years, agents have invested in technology to better help clients. A concern for several stakeholders are “Agent Aggregators,” third-party organisations that digitally centralise recruitment agents for HEIs. This concern comes from the need to “filter and qualify” applicants, but they are also believed to help universities increase their market reach.

An average of 31% of applicants came from overseas schools; typically English-medium international schools. Around 6% of non-UK domiciled applicants applied through schools or further education colleges in the UK, with another 4% studying at UK pathway programmes.

According to the study, there has been a gradual increase in undergraduate applicants applying through overseas schools, highlighting the importance of engaging with international schools abroad. However, students at UK-curriculum schools abroad do not necessarily go on to HE study in the UK; many instead apply to study in the US, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands.

Jacqui Jenkins of the BC has said, “While traditional pathways into international higher education remain popular, this study demonstrates the increasing importance of international schools and agents in UK overseas recruitment.”

“This research report brings greater clarity on the channels to, and key influencers influencing, UK undergraduate study choices,” says Chris Kirk of UCAS. “To remain globally competitive, it is essential that the UK builds on its already extensive network of quality international counsellors, teachers and agents.”

Image courtesy of Muhammad Haikal Sjukri
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