An Interview with Australia Study Educational Services

Question 1: Please introduce yourself and the company you work for.

My name is Magda Stefaniak and I am the Education Consultant / Recruiter for the Polish market.
I work for Australia Study Educational Services Poland Office.

Our team in Australia – representatives and countries where they recruit from:

Sydney Office:
Wojtek Wawrzynski – General Manager (Poland)
Tati Sumarna (Indonesia)
Michael Rete (Spain)
Michiyo Sugimoto (Japan)

Adelaide Office:
Kia Sulander (Scandinavian market – Finland, Sweden, Norway)
Katin Kumsa- Ard (Thailand)
Nicolas Correa (Chile + Argentina and other LATAM countries)
Adrian Palczewski (Poland)
Tommy Sugianto (Indonesia)

Question 2: Why do your clients choose Australia as a study destination?

Australia offers:

  • High standards of Australian education
  • An Australian degree which is recognised in the world
  • An English-speaking country so students study English in a native language environment
  • Safe learning environment
  • A very welcoming environment to international students
  • An exotic destination for Europeans (good weather, located on the other side of the world and unique as not many people select Australia)
  • A multicultural country where students have the opportunity to meet people from around the world
  • A modern lifestyle and freedom of choice
  • A good economic situation and the opportunity to forget about everyday life issues

Question 3: What are the top three areas your students ask about when choosing a college?

  • People (nationality mix, lecturers and customer service)
  • Price
  • Can I learn something different there or is the college the same as the others?

Question 4: What courses are in demand and do you wish to see more colleges provide these courses?

This question does not have a clear answer as every market is different. The Polish market has recently been dominated by Vocational study students with a growth in higher education, but a decline in the ELICOS sector. In Chile, the market is constantly growing in numbers, especially in ELICOS. However, for Scandinavians they do not require any English language studies, as most of them are already fluent in English.

In the last 12 months I observed that students are looking for unique courses which sound outstanding, modern and practical.

An example is the Australian College of Business Intelligence, which has a very catchy name and looks good on a resume. They also initiate very practical and demanding courses like:

  • Diploma of Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Diploma of Social Media
  • Cert IV in Environmental Sustainability

Another one is MnM Institute. Its Diploma of Business course has a major in Entrepreneurship where students can work with start-ups and also on their own business. This differentiates them from the many other Diploma of Business courses in the market. Another college is Ironwood Institute in Adelaide which offers Horticulture or Agrobusiness courses.

Question 5: Think of your three top colleges that you send students to. What makes you choose those three colleges?

I don’t think it’s would be wise of me to mention only three of them, as in a few months the top 3 colleges may change. As an education agent, I need to be up to date with promotions, customer service rates and student satisfaction. In addition, offered courses and colleges depend on the profile of the student, their career goals and expectations.

What makes colleges to be at the top? As well as the study programs, students need to have a lecturer with passion and an understanding of international student cultures, mentality, issues and happiness. In addition, life as an international student is full of unpredictable situations which need to handled and sometimes assistance is required from the college.

International students are in Australia to get to know people from all around the world. Therefore, nationality mix really matters as well as additional effort from the college to enrich students’ social life by organising special events and activities (especially in the ELICOS sector). For VET and higher education, students check professional opportunities and if the college is able to connect them with the industry through networking events or industry internships which open the door to further employment. In addition, students are concerned with how interesting the lectures are and how encouraging the facilitators can be.

Question 6: For new CRICOS colleges, what advice would you give them to successfully recruit overseas students?

  • Customer service comes first
  • Provide uniqueness

 Question 7: What is the reason for not promoting a college that pays you a high commission?

As mentioned above, customer service comes first. What’s the point of a few percent more commission if we spend more time on paperwork, solving student’s issues or even lose a student?

As an education agent, most of the pressure is from the student’s side which falls back on the education agency. Students recognise us as powerful people who represent particular colleges.

If things cannot be solved or are not organised within a timely and efficient manner, we may lose a student’s respect and trust.

Question 8: What is the range of commission that colleges pay? And what other costs do colleges need to consider when working with an education agency?

Colleges pay approximately as per below:

  • Higher Education: 10%
  • VET: 25-30%
  • ELICOS: 30%.

For us, an additional budget is important for marketing purposes so we can expose the college to a broader audience.

Question 9: What makes your agency special?

We mainly take care of students in the markets we originally come from, so that we have a better understanding of their behaviour, questions and any problems they need to be aware of.

Our purpose is to be a guide or even a friend, rather than only provide a service. I don’t particularly like the word “agent” since we provide more than just a visa or college assistance. We are with our students when they need us.  We believe that building a society which supports each other brings mutual benefits. We organise International Networking Events for international students in Adelaide, and for Polish and Finnish professionals in Sydney, as a way to gather people in one place and provide them with an opportunity to grow and network with individuals who have already experienced a similar path in their lives/careers.

Most of our students come from referral. Australia Study Educational Services wouldn’t exist if we didn’t focus on customer service and on students. We do not have business hours as our agency and students are not our business, but our life. And we live it 24/7.

Question 10: If a college would like to start working with your agency, what is required?

It is important to:

  • Be communicative
  • Be responsive
  • Show real care of students’ needs by trying to understand particular market demands and be able to adjust an offer for a particular market.
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