Partnerships are critical to international education. Whether it’s an international student seeking advice from an education agent, or a university working with a payments provider to facilitate student tuition payments – the international education community is built on a solid foundation of partnerships.
Collaborating with the right partners is vital if you are going to deliver overall success – not just in your business, but to the sector as a whole. Here are three things I’ve learned to help form successful partnerships in international education.
1. Create transparency
Long and successful partnerships are built on trust and communication. A foundation of honesty and transparency creates stronger bonds and a more robust and trustworthy relationship between partners. The more transparent you are, the more you and your allies will be empowered to understand each other and effectively utilise your collective strengths.
Seeking out partners who belong to industry associations is one such sign of trustworthiness. These associations are growing in size across the globe, in an effort to improve ethical standards and promote best practices.
At the same time, being honest also means acknowledging your weaknesses. In our recent survey, we asked 400 international education agents what their biggest challenges were when it came to working with education providers.
Many cited response times, while others claimed that inaccurate information and delays with processing applications were their bugbears. It’s important to empathise with your partners when setbacks emerge or issues arise. Being upfront about where your strengths and weaknesses are as a business shows that you respect your partners, and are willing to collaborate in order to generate the best outcome.
By developing open and effective avenues of communication, you’ll ensure that your partnership runs much more smoothly and that all parties are able to successfully achieve their long-term goals.
2. Provide training opportunities and incentives
Education agents make for strong advocates, which is why education providers must establish strong partnerships with this group. In a rapidly changing landscape with shifting regulations and requirements, education providers may struggle to keep agents informed, which is where training can play an important role.
By delivering training and disseminating up to date information in an engaging manner, education providers will ensure that agents feel valued not just by providers, but by the whole international education ecosystem.
While many training tools can be cost-prohibitive, running a series of webinars can be just as effective – and affordable – when it comes to agent engagement. Using webinars to run training sessions, facilitate Q&As and educate agents about topics relevant to them will set you apart from your industry counterparts.
3. Nurture the right partnerships
Finding the right partners isn’t easy, and it’s important to be particular in your search for the right network and connections. In our agent survey, it was revealed that education agents placed a strong emphasis on personal relationships in their engagement with an education provider.
So, how do you go about identifying and nurturing the partners who are right for you? Remember that any partner you work with will be an extension of your organisation, so your first step will be to make sure that your potential partner fits well with your organisations’ direction and values.
You’ll also need to make sure that your partners share your view of success, and that they’re happy to check in on the progress of shared projects. Partners who are willing to continually collaborate and adjust project goals when needed are vital, so be sure to discuss this with potential partners from early on. You’ll find that operating in this way will enable a mutually beneficial relationship to form.
Nurturing the right partnerships also brings enormous opportunities to your business and your extended network. It will boost both your business’ reputation and help expand your connections. With some players in the international education arena traditionally operating in a siloed environment, collaborating and sharing resources could be highly beneficial.
Creating strong partnerships among industry stakeholders will keep the international education industry growing and moving forward. Healthy partnerships ensure we are all working towards the ultimate shared goal of facilitating successful international student journeys, and the whole ecosystem must be involved if we are going to achieve this.
About the author: Mark Fletcher is CEO and co-founder of Cohort Go; a leading edtech company that maximises agent performance for education providers and simplifies global payments for the entire international education ecosystem.
This article was first published by The PIE Blog