With digital transitions making traction across the industry, agencies are concerned that online applications at higher education level and direct bookings will threaten their businesses.
“Problems should be tackled by agencies and schools together”
Academic director at Aktif Education Abroad Agency, Burak Yilmaz, noted that students will miss out on expert advice that agencies can offer.
“[Direct bookings] should aim to increase the numbers, not to substitute agencies with artificial intelligence,” he said.
“Students look to [get] advice from agents including which school or programs to choose and of course the visa process.
“To be honest, none of the educational institutions have enough know-how, personnel or the infrastructure to handle all these personal relationships.”
He added that by taking both sides’ well-being into consideration, “in the long run, that would present as the most profitable and sustainable way”.
Speaking with The PIE News, YEDAB president and chairman of the board Osman Yilmaz emphasised the importance of agencies in the sector.
“As agencies, we not only promote the schools’ physical advantages but also counsel the students… [and] present the best options of education for [students].”
Schools selling their own courses online directly would create “an obstacle” for students trying to get a better education, Yilmaz suggested.
Visa issues persist as an example of expertise that students will miss out on via direct bookings, according to the YEDAB president.
“[Visa issues] interrupt universal education,” he said.
In the last six months, Turkish education agencies have reported difficulties in obtaining visas for the UK, Yilmaz reminded workshop delegates.
“However some schools [have been worried] about losing their market areas and offer agencies… special promotions.”
Other points noted at the session highlighted commission rates and payments, and the negative impact of geopolitical issues on visa processes.
Restrictions on immigration, visa issues and changes in work permits increasingly put the industry in a difficult situation, agents said.
“Agency commissions shouldn’t be evaluated as costs but as a profitable investment to their own business,” Yilmaz at Aktif noted, adding that “problems should be tackled by agencies and schools together”.
Other agents speaking on the panel at the EuroAsia Workshop included Shireen Abu Nasra of Regent Education Consultants and Services, United Arab Emirates, Otto Laszlo Nagy of IHH, Hungary, Ali Anbori of International Consultants, Iraq, and Chayarnithsarr Khanijor of TIECA, Thailand.