Gunel Novruzova, who set up education agency NGGLOBAL education in Beşiktaş on Istanbul’s European side earlier this year, was not to be deterred.
“This year I decided that I would do it,” says the former school representative in the Turkish market. “But it was pretty stressful.”
Unlike in her previous role where she represented one private German university, now she is back to representing several schools and meeting more people, which her career in international education had positioned her to do. And the new job continues to offer professional development.
“I am selling and learning at the same time,” she explains.
By starting her own agency, Novruzova is also going against a trend of more counsellors from Turkey joining education providers as country representatives.
The agency is already getting applications and good numbers, but Novruzova also speaks about a change in the profile of Turkish students looking to study abroad. While previously a lot of focus was placed on rankings, now affordability is coming into play.
“The private university prices [in Turkey] are now competing with European universities,” she says. “[For many] it doesn’t make sense to study here.”
Countries are offering generous scholarships in Europe for Turkish students, with no fees required whatsoever for certain institutions.
It’s possible to study in English in Italy with government scholarships offering up to €7,000 per year, she emphasises. “Not all agencies here are offering that,” she notes.
“I am an independent woman in another country trying to do my own business and succeed”
With the office based in Beşiktaş in Istanbul, the majority of students coming to the agency are from the city. Yet, Novruzova also has students from across the country, in addition to her native Azerbaijan, as well as Russia, CIS countries, Europe and even India.
As an employer, it’s harder and harder to find qualified counsellors, she tells The PIE. “It’s a competitive agency market in Turkey,” she says. “Students will go to several different agents and receive the same information.”
For NGGLOBAL education, it is about building connection and trust with clients, she says.
“I am an independent woman in another country trying to do my own business and succeed.
“I didn’t know the laws here, I didn’t know how it worked. But if I don’t do it now, then I’ll never do it because now I’m young, I have motivation, I need to do that otherwise I will just lose the opportunity.”