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QS acquires StudentApply as it enters end-to-end enrolment space

QS Quacquarelli Symonds has acquired web-based counselling and application platform StudentApply as it seeks to strengthen its student recruitment proposition in the fast-moving and competitive world of international student recruitment.

Photo: StudentApply

"We have the same mission that we had when we started three decades ago"

The acquisition of aggregator-style platform StudentApply, founded in 2020, means QS will now
enable its student audience of over 55 million students not only to connect with leading institutions globally but also to use this simplified admissions platform, the company confirmed.

“By integrating StudentApply, QS will enable [student visitors] to receive expert counselling aimed at helping them achieve their educational objectives.”

The move means that QS, with a range of products and services focused on students and higher education partners, can also engage with agency channel applications.

Speaking with The PIE about the announcement, QS CEO Nunzio Quacquarelli explained that StudentApply counsellors will benefit from QS datasets to enable students to “make a really informed choice”.

“As we look at our evolution, it makes a lot of sense for us to say, ‘Well, how can we apply our data and our insights for more students and use our technology and our machine learning to better match students to institutions?'” he said.

StudentApply works with agency and high school partners

StudentApply, based in Hong Kong, has 4000 applications in process this year across all channels and aims to support over 20,000 applications in 2022.

In a statement, Steve Carter, co-founder of  StudentApply,  said the company “[looks] forward to utilising [QS’s] best-in-class data and research to better inform and counsel our diverse pool of students and to support the admission goals of our university partners”.

StudentApply, based in Hong Kong, has 4000 applications in process this year

Quacquarelli underlined to The PIE that QS and StudentApply will make available its unique data insights to a network of partners: “scholarship bodies, government agencies, high school counsellors, qualified recruitment agents, and advisors, enabling them to better support their students”.

“StudentApply counsellors will be armed with all of our unique data and be able to share that with students,” he stated. “I think we’re better equipped than ever to really support students [to find] their best fit institution.”

Key in the acquisition is that StudentApply enables QS to support a greater diversity of students, Quacquarelli continued.

“[The platform] is very technology enabled, very focused on supporting a diverse student base,” he said, adding that the StudentApply team of “really experienced counsellors” are not based in traditional source markets like China or India.

With regional hubs in Kazakhstan, Thailand and Colombia, StudentApply is “really focused on reaching new groups of students that are in need of more help”.

“Students in China get a lot of support already,” Quacquarelli told The PIE News.

“There’s a lot of counselling going on in China and probably not a need for another support service. But in Central Asia, there’s actually almost nothing. The centre in Colombia is serving Latin America. That’s really the mission objective of supporting education achievement, international mobility, but being able to do it at scale, and supported by technology and data, is where StudentApply fits.”

With regional hubs in Kazakhstan, Thailand and Colombia, StudentApply is “really focused on reaching new groups of students

Until now the advisory process has largely been operated through QS events, where students have connected with institutions, in addition to its matching tool where students can search by criteria, including by employability, affordability or teaching.

QS’s counselling at scale business QS Enrolment Solutions – also an acquisition the company made in 2017 – provides counselling at on white-label basis to institutions using “the best in breed technology CRM”.

“We have the same mission that we had when we started [three decades ago],” Quacquarelli added.

“From the beginning we’ve been focused on student success, providing the right information, providing the right support, connecting them with institutions directly.”

The leadership team at StudentApply comprises Steve Carter, Assem Sapanova, Christian Mejia, Tom Keenan and Devin Hewitt, all of whom have a background in global student recruitment.

Hewitt previously worked at Study Group and Shorelight; Carter is ex-Study Group and Cambridge Education Group, while Mejia is a veteran of the Colombian agency market; Sapanova has a Kazakh agency recruitment background and Australia-based Keenan is ex-INTO and EduCo.

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5 Responses to QS acquires StudentApply as it enters end-to-end enrolment space

  1. QS’ success fee business is in direct conflict of interest with the events business, as leads generated through online registration for events will now be channelled into this success fee business. No matter how much they hide behind “data, counselling, research” etc, the bottom line is that QS has tried its hand at success fee business earlier without any success (using its QS Unisolution products) and now is going to have a go at it again. The problem is that QS events clients will be shortchanged by this, as now they will not only need to pay for leads but also compete for conversion against the very people they are paying to generate such leads.

  2. Absolutely ominous. But they have gotten away for many years by using their intelligence products to push events and digital sales, and later with paid ratings products. Unlike THE, which is dedicated in its services and work with universities only. Given this direct agent work that they are getting into, it will be obvious where the focus of business will be – using the clout of rankings to push through success fee deals.

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