Basiri spoke with The PIE’s Amy Baker during a PIE Chat Live session about ApplyBoard’s future plans, the democratisation of access for students and how the company is tackling quality and calibre concerns when it comes to student profile.
“We’re doing over 25,000 this year… next year we’re going to be on track to do over 60,000”
ApplyBoard, which has helped popularise the term ‘aggregator’, has attracted huge investment. Back in June, the company raised C$375 million (US$300 million) in Series D funding, bringing its valuation up to C$4 billion (US$3.2 billion).
Now, Basiri has revealed figures around how many students it is managing to place at institutions around the world.
“We’re doing over 25,000 this year… next year we’re going to be on track to do over 60,000 enrolments [with students] actually starting classes,” he said during the PIE Chat.
Basiri explained that the majority of these students will be placed in Canada, followed by the US and the UK.
“About 60% will be [in] Canada. With Australia, we had an ambitious goal, but we needed to push it back to January 2023, unfortunately, I think that’s not a surprise.
“The UK and US are next…. Next year we will be the largest in the US and we will be the largest in the UK by far,” Basiri said.
“We [saw] 400% growth in our US applications this year compared to last year,” he added.
During the session Basiri also gave other key insights into how the ApplyBoard business works. He told The PIE that ApplyBoard currently has 7,500 recruitment agent partners in around 119 countries.
He explained that the use of these sub-agents wasn’t always accepted by institutions.
“Four or five years ago, I went to a meeting with schools and they told me, ‘get out! We don’t want to support you because [you use] recruitment partners’. And I give them the credit,” he said.
“There was not a company that could really use credible sources and make sure the application integrity doesn’t get jeopardised… we’ve done a phenomenal job on that.”
Basiri said that ApplyBoard has always been committed to supporting recruitment partners and helping them to grow their business.
“Our recruitment partners that join ApplyBoard, year by year, are growing their business by 40%… we’re enabling them to become more successful,” he said.
Since the success of ApplyBoard numerous aggregators have come onto the scene, with a lot of activity being centred around India and South Asia.
Basiri said he is happy that competition is emerging because it “validates that there is a multi-billion industry”.
“I truly believe there is not one winner who takes it all,” he said. However he argued that there is not enough innovation among other companies.
“Our attitude has always been how do we go and build new things that support recruitment partners? A lot of [competitors], their attitude is like, ‘What is it that ApplyBoard is not doing well. Let’s go point out their weaknesses to win’, which actually makes us to be more humble… and to go improve our weaknesses,” he said.
Recently concerns have been voiced around how aggregators are able to ensure quality of applications, and proper vetting on sub-agents.
Basiri told The PIE that in 2018 compared to 2021, they were getting about one eighth less of top client applications.
“In 2018, we were getting more per state challenges around integrity of application and the bad apples that existed than today.
“We’re receiving far less challenges, because we already know those bad apples”
“We’re receiving far less challenges, because we already know those bad apples. We don’t work with the bad apples and now they have access to other platforms.”
Basiri explained that ApplyBoard invested in its integrity and application process four years ago.
“So the reason we’re doing a much better job today is because of the investments we made,” he said.
He said that ApplyBoard has a high visa approval rate for the students it sends to Canada.
“That means we’re doing something right. We’re identifying the students on the path to success. Otherwise, our visa approval should have been worse,” he said.
Basiri told The PIE that ApplyBoard has 12 universities and colleges that outsource their entire recruitment to the platform.
“Why? Because they see much higher efficiency. They see much better retention and they actually see that there is less challenge managing their recruitment partner and they’re getting better students,” he added.