We have all heard about “love at first sight” but does in ever happen in reality? Especially in a business environment?
Whether that is possible or not, there is no doubt that first impressions count. And although we like to think of education as something special, the reality is that we are in a fiercely competitive field, promoting our “products” not only against those from competitor countries, but like it or not, also against similar providers in New Zealand.
Most European countries, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Dubai, and now Egypt and Morocco have ambitious plans to very significantly increase recruitment of International Students, and in some cases make themselves into large scale Education Hubs. New Zealand has lost huge market share of Korean students, now studying English in the Philippines, and Malta has announced plans for significantly increasing its targets for English tuition, from an already quite large base.
New Zealand’s’ position as one of the traditional 5 English-speaking countries no longer affords the advantage it once did, but this still holds some advantage.
Two factors in our favour are that we are perceived by potential students as having a high ranking for safety and affordability. Safety includes not just physical safety, but health safety through our clean environment and food supply, financial safety through Student Fee protection, and safe education standards and pastoral care through compliance requirements of NZQA.
We are very dependent on Agents (for up to 80% of students), and we frequently hear negative comments about agents. Undoubtedly, some are money-grubbing ratbags, but most are not. Most are very professional people, with a business to run, and significant costs in attracting potential clients. (And an awful lot of tyre-kickers to deal with.) Understandably, they need to balance the best advice to their clients with the best financial return to themselves. (The ratbags get this balance wrong!)
Let’s also remember that particularly in big cities, agents will not try to appeal to all market segments. They may specialise in particular levels, or price brackets, or other factors.
So, are you attractive for agents to send their students to you?
We think that before an agent gets to know you deeply, their first impressions are
There is quite a wide range of prices at all levels of education in New Zealand, and within and between regions. Of course the basic factor is the cost of providing the service, but should you consider the average cost, or the marginal cost? (That is, the additional cost in putting one more student into a classroom?) However, pricing is very often determined by assessing “what the market is prepared to pay.” Additional benefits, real or perceived, will affect the price you can successfully charge.
The table below looks at some factors affecting pricing for International Students in the Tertiary sector, but the Schools sector will also have factors that make one school more desirable than another, and thus justify a higher price.
Job Search helpThus, generally, the Universities have the highest status and most specialisation and can charge the highest prices. With much lower costs, the PTEs should be far cheaper, and often they are, but they can justify higher prices by giving added benefits that are valued by their potential students (and/or their agents). PTEs mainly attract students who are looking to get working experience in New Zealand that will benefit their future career – which may even be in New Zealand! Added benefits may include
So, in the School sector, how will agents (and potential students) look at your price?
Discounts: The days of schools at all levels being full of rich Chinese who equate high price with high quality are well and truly gone. International Education is the realm of the emerging middle classes, who want quality, but who also want a bargain, and are often very price-sensitive. In Asia in particular, getting a scholarship is very desirable, even if it is just a discount by another name. Even some New Zealand Universities are offering partial scholarships of up to 10%, particularly in countries where they are trying to develop a new market.
It is very common for PTEs to have 3 pricing/discount/scholarship levels
Remember again, that you are competing with other destination countries, and like it or not, with other schools in New Zealand.
By and large, Agents are good, honest, business people who want to be fairly rewarded for their effort. And good agents are like gold – they need to be treasured!
Does your commission structure reward your agents adequately and motivate them to continue to send students to you? You may have an opinion on that, but the fact is that you have to “meet the market” or you will not be successful.
So, what does the market say?
Firstly, put yourself in the shoes of an agent
So, what are the common rates in the market?
(Note: Rates in Australia are similar.)
*It is common now to increase Course Related Costs, on which no commission payable, and decrease tuition fees. For example: fees of $18,000 made up of $15,000 tuition and $3,000 CRC. Commission of 40% is $6000, which is “only” 33% of $18,000.*It is common now to increase Course Related Costs, on which no commission payable, and decrease tuition fees.
From the perspective of agents and students, what first impressions really matter?
(NOTE: these factors may seem obvious, but sometimes we are so involved in daily routines, that we cannot “see the wood for the trees.” Unfortunately, we often see schools not giving the great first impression that they need give to have the best chance of being successful.)
1.From a distance
Your website: Is it
Your communications: are they
Your other marketing collateral: is it
2.Up close on arrival
Your street frontage: is it
Reception office: is it
Student Welcome & Orientation: is it
Of course, first impressions need to be backed up with lasting impressions, because word-of-mouth is the most powerful advertisement you have – for you and against you.
And the death-knell
Pretend you know nothing about your school
© Choose New Zealand 2014