2022 Boom in agent commission paid by UK universities in 2021/22


In 2021, the College of Exeter paid schooling brokers £9m to recruit 1,800 postgraduate and 750 undergraduate college students. 5 years earlier, brokers had netted £2.5m when recruiting 765 PG and 335 UG college students.

The College of York – whereas it didn’t share what number of college students had been recruited through brokers within the final 5 years – has additionally seen an analogous progress in fee funds.

In 2017/18, it paid brokers £2.42m in fee and 5 years later, funds reached £9.07m.

Different establishments which have seen comparable booms in fee funds to brokers embody Kingston College, which leaped from £1.4m in 2017/18 to £7.3m in 2021/22, and Cranfield, which jumped from £1.1m for PG recruitment in 2017/18 to £3.7m in 2021/22.

“Fee charges can take months, if not years to barter”

The College for the Artistic Arts noticed a 750% improve in funds of fee between 2016/17 and 2020/21, beginning at £373,191.42 reaching £3.1m to recruit 614 postgraduate taught and 330 UG college students in 2020/21.

Leeds Beckett additionally began at a decrease base 5 years earlier, paying £726,953 in fee, which has grown to £5.1m within the final tutorial 12 months when 1,695 college students arrived through brokers. It’s a comparable image for Wrexham Glyndwr College, the place brokers earned a complete of £23,500 in fee in 2017/18 – in 2021/22, funds hit £2.4m.

The info – obtained by The PIE via FOIs – reveals that the college in North Wales has utilised brokers to recruit extra PG worldwide college students. In 2017, it enrolled 5 college students via brokers, however by 2022 this had leaped to eight undergraduate college students and 547 PGs.

Whereas many universities declined to share complete fee paid together with numbers of scholars recruited, Durham College detailed that in 2017/18, brokers earned £2.5m recruiting 244 undergraduate and 1,086 postgraduate taught college students.

5 years later, this had grown to £4.5m for 411 undergrads and 1,206 postgraduate college students.

The UK hosted 605,130 worldwide college students within the 2020/21 tutorial 12 months, famously hitting its 600,000 goal a decade sooner than anticipated. The FOIs reveal how brokers have contributed to reaching the goal early.

The College of Warwick for instance mentioned that if it had been to disclose numbers and monetary remuneration, different events would be capable to calculate fee charges.

“Fee charges can take months, if not years to barter they usually range between our brokers, in the identical approach brokers will range charges for various larger schooling purchasers,” the college mentioned. Nevertheless, it did share a list of agents it really works with.

There are considerations from some within the UK about fee charges spiralling away from the ‘normal’ 10% fee charges, with some suggesting massive recruiting brokers could also be paid 20%+ by universities. The PIE has been unable to confirm precise fee charges with universities.

However calculations counsel that in 2021/22 Exeter paid out a mean of £3,529 per pupil, Kingston £3,055, Durham £2,819 and Kent £1,659. Nevertheless, in actuality precise fee charges range relying on track price, sort, degree and particular person agreements with brokers.

There are additionally worries that universities have gotten overly reliant on brokers to recruit college students.

Of the 129 universities The PIE requested knowledge from, 19 refused to share any info, declining even to say what number of agent companions they’ve labored with previously 5 years.

These refusing to share any knowledge included Universities of Liverpool, Essex, Newcastle, Cardiff and Birmingham, amongst others. In Australia, knowledge is freely accessible on the Australian Division for Training website.

Nevertheless, the info indicated progress in agent partnerships with many UK universities over the previous half a decade.

Agent settlement progress

The PIE discovered that the College of Artistic Arts holds probably the most, with 365 agreements in place this 12 months. This was adopted by South Wales with 362 in 2021, DMU with 320, Cardiff Met 273 in the identical 12 months, and Arts College Bournemouth with 267 in 2022.

Nevertheless, progress in company partnerships isn’t the case for all establishments. York St John for instance noticed progress in formal agreements with brokers from 2018 up till 2020/21 when it had 148 partnerships in place. That 12 months brokers introduced in 48 undergrads and 680 postgrads. Nevertheless, in 2021/22, the establishment had solely 14 agreements and but elevated pupil numbers coming via brokers, growing to 85 undergrads and 705 postgrads.

Different establishments which have decreased the variety of formal agreements with brokers embody: Derby which dropped from 133 agreements in 2018 to 104 in 2022; Solent decreased its partnership from 115 in 2017 to 92 in 2022; Suffolk went from 45 in 2018 to 38 in 2021; and Bradford lowers its agent agreements to 282 in 2022 from 303 in 2019.

Robert Gordon College was one establishment that has an analogous variety of agreements – 113 – in 2021 as in 2017, when it had 114. Equally, Studying went from 163 to 164, UEA from 156 to 154 and Edinburgh 45 to 47 over 5 years.

BUILA’s 2021 survey discovered that of 105 respondents at UK larger schooling establishments, all had been utilizing not less than one schooling agent, with some utilizing as much as 400.

Roughly half of the HEIs’ worldwide college students are positioned by an agent, BUILA’s analysis beforehand discovered.

The info collected by The PIE reveals the extent that some establishments are counting on brokers to enrol college students.

UAL for instance has seen the ratio of worldwide college students come through brokers leap from 26% for UG and 41% for PG in 2017/18 to 46% and 63% in 2021/22, respectively.

“We won’t pay anybody fee for sending us a pupil, nor endorse the providers they supply”

College of West Scotland has seen the ratio of worldwide college students enrolling through brokers improve from 25% within the 2017/18 tutorial 12 months, to 87% in 2021/22. Kingston elevated to 76% of worldwide college students coming via brokers, up from 57% in 2017/18.

Utilising brokers for PG recruitment

In addition to Wrexham Glyndwr, the PIE additionally recognized different universities which have seen large progress in postgraduate enrolments through brokers. In 2019, the UK authorities mentioned it might reinstate post-study work rights via the Graduate route for graduates of the 2020/21 tutorial 12 months, which can be one cause for the expansion in PG enrolments.

Six establishments – Oxford, Imperial, Cambridge, College of Wales, UHI – West Highland and the Open College – mentioned that they don’t use brokers to recruit worldwide college students.

Imperial shared its policy on international education agents, which states that the establishment “won’t pay anybody fee for sending us a pupil, nor endorse the providers they supply”.

The college “unequivocally disapprove[s] of” any brokers claiming to be working on its behalf or a ‘particular relationship’ with Imperial, or expenses college students for functions on the grounds that they may have a greater likelihood of moving into Imperial School London via them than if the scholar had utilized instantly.

Plymouth Marjon College famous that it entered its first two formal agreements with brokers within the present calendar 12 months, however no college students had but been recruited.


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