Academia United, a web-based platform allowing students to search, compare and book English language courses, is hoping that within two and a half years, its annual bookings will total anywhere between 30,000-100,000 student weeks.
Launching the beta version of its site at the beginning of May, Academia United is the market’s only multi-currency, multi-lingual and multi-provider online agency in the sector.
“Our conversion rate is even more than triple any other company that we are competing with”
The platform is currently available in Turkey, the Middle East and in English speaking countries, with its global rollout to other major markets expected within the next six months.
Academia United’s founder, Selim Dervish, said that the platform helps students find what they are looking for in the easiest way possible and as a result, the website boasts a very high conversion rate.
“When we have an enquiry from this website compared with any other website, we actually convert them,” he told The PIE News.
“Our conversion rate is even more than triple any other company that we are competing with.”
The project began development five years ago, during which time an extensive amount of market research was carried out.
“I felt that in my team, we know what students are looking for,” said Dervish.
“So we wanted to bring to the market something that really will answer the real needs of the students and that will help them to make a decision rather than make the decision process more complicated and more painful.”
“We wanted to bring to the market something that really will answer the real needs of the students”
For each search, only three schools are generated as results out of ease, with the option to view more. Students can read short overviews of the institutions, view and compare competitor schools and book accommodation.
The funds to create and develop Academia United have come from two main investors, and it earns money by working like other traditional agency models. The platform provides students with a full service, sends completed bookings directly to the schools and collects commission.
Currently, Academia United is only listing ten school chains in its results, but Dervish said that these cover around 75% of the English language market share, with over 200 branches in the main English speaking destinations.
While the possibility of adding more schools in the future has not been ruled out, the platform will prioritise developing its student interaction and feedback.
“The second stage will be collecting data from the students about their experience,” said Dervish.
“And this will usually help the student community to search and find the right course and by reading comments of real people.”
There are also plans to open a series of worldwide offices to provide students with a local number to answer enquiries and provide help with bookings.
“I personally think that technology is playing a much greater role than what people are assuming of it”
Dervish emphasised how important the advancement of technology is becoming in the sector, saying that it is one of the biggest disruptive factors “in the study travel industry as a whole.”
“I personally think that technology is playing a much greater role than what people are assuming of it,” he said. “In the near future, technology is going to play an even greater role.”
Academia United is also mobile-ready, and developers will later work on an app to allow students to access some of the platform’s content even when offline.
Referring to agents, he continued: “The ones who want to stay as they are and keep the status quo, I think those are the ones within the next probably three to five years, we will not be seeing them in the market any longer.”