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China: 11 agents work with 30+ Australian unis

Eleven agencies across China are recruiting on behalf of at least 30 universities in Australia, new research by The PIE News has found.

Agencies seek to help students from China bridge the gap to Australian universities. Photo: pexels

Some 88 agencies work with between two to five Australian universities

IDP Education has the most partnerships, with 38 agreements in place according to online data accessed in October 2023.

The agent juggernaut headquartered in Australia – and partially owned by 13 Australian universities – was followed by Beijing Aoji, with 36 university partners, JLL with 35, AAedu with 34, and Huatong Xinnuo and ACIC both with some 33 university partners.

New Oriental, Bright Can-Achieve and EIC all work with at least 32 Australian universities, while AUG and EduGlobal also both have upwards of 30 partnerships, with 31 and 30 universities, respectively, naming the agencies as recruitment partners online.

Previous data has found that 73% of international students from China looking to study in Australia used an agent to help them apply and enrol on courses in 2018.

Government data released almost five years ago found that the average provider in Australia had 16 agent partners, each contributing an average of 84 students. It also said that the average number of partners for agents was five institutions.

In 2022, the Student Experience Survey found that 86% of all international undergraduates used agents to help with visa application or enrolment (93.2% of whom said that the service provided was good or very good).

While the latest research from The PIE does not identify which agents recruit the highest number of students in the country that accounted for 162,826 in the January-October 2023 period, it does show the number of agencies each university has in China

It also shows which agencies are trusted by the highest number of universities.

During the pandemic and China’s borders were closed, there was a big shift in agency operations in the country.

New Oriental for example announced it would set up an e-commerce platform to sell agricultural produce as part of a business transformation plan.

Research from 2022 by BONARD however found that of 439 active agencies surveyed, 97% were still actively promoting higher ed. At the height of the pandemic, only 412 of the 2,000+ education agencies in New Tier 1 cities were operating as usual.

Authorities in Australia require institutions to publish lists of the agencies they are working with. Curtin University has the greatest number of agency partners in China, naming at least 50 partners that other institutions do not work with.

However, included in its list of recruitment agent partners are schools such as Bonan-Golden Apple (WACE High School), Changchun Experimental Middle School, Chengdu Shishi Middle School and Hefei No 1 Middle School.

As was found with the analysis of Indian agents, Southern Cross University engages EduCo International Group as its master agent. However, unlike in India, EduCo lists only two organisations – Huatong Xinnuo Int’l Cultural Exchange Center Limited and Hubei Shinuo Tianxia Education Consultancy – as ‘Accelerate’ agents.

The total number of agents the university works with in China is significantly lower that in India, where its number of partners managed by EduCo totals some 213. In China, it engages some 24 organisations to recruit on its behalf.

Some 88 agencies work with between two to five Australian universities.

University of Divinity did not feature in The PIE’s analysis as it does not publish a list of agents it works with online.

This is part of a series of articles on Australian higher education’s agency partners. The data was collected in October-November of 2023.

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