Following mounting reports of agents squeezing schools and families for commissions in return for poor-fit placements, Stephen Spriggs spoke out this week, calling for transparency and impartiality from education consultancies, and the need for regulation if things don’t improve.

The founder and Managing Director of leading London Education Consultancy, William Clarence Education, voiced his concern this week, branding the advice given by some international education agencies an ‘awful and morally corrupt practice’ that places students with the highest bidder, regardless of suitability and fit.

Mr Spriggs commented:

“William Clarence is hearing far too often from families who have been given poor advice from agencies. The result of this? Students being placed in a poor fit school, only to then be moved again while the agency collects a second commission.”

Mr Spriggs highlighted the detrimental effect such practices have on schools, who are relying more than ever on international and boarding students yet appear to be paying out more and more in agency fees to attract them.

Agency fees can typically be anything between 10-20% of first-year fees, which stands out as a clear conflict of interest for agencies who, often, have not visited the international schools they are placing for, or even spoken to them at length about their requirements.

Stephen Spriggs added:

“I think schools currently are being held to ransom by some agents, both domestically and internationally. They need good students, but the agent will only provide students if they receive high fees back each year - which can equate to 6-8k per student! That is not sustainable for schools who are already operating on thin margins, with numerous headwinds approaching in the coming years. It can’t be a surprise that schools are forced to use these agents, as they are in such need of interventional fee-paying students. For schools, this is a very expensive way of recruiting students, with many schools spending 50-100k per year on fees to agents for students.”

Mr Spriggs also offered a number of effective solutions for academic institutions, as an alternative to investing more money into agencies and advertising.

These included:

  • Increased branding for key markets – locally and overseas
  • Establish and nurture close, trusted relationships with international partners.
  • Focus on targeting and narrow down student profile.

He also stressed the need for more protections to be put in place to safeguard both institutions and students in these situations, and for consultancies and agencies alike to be held to a more ethical, impartial way of operating. 

William Clarence Education is committed to transparency and impartiality in the services it provides to both institutions and families. Its school placement consultants do not ask for, or accept, commissions from schools for the students they place, and the firm’s main goal is to secure the best-fit placement for each student, rather than the highest fee. William Clarence prides itself on the excellent ongoing relationships it maintains with both clients and academic institutions.

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