Earlier this week Brooke from AgentBee’s education agent monitoring team visited the website of a large Australian vocational training college based in Sydney. We won’t use it’s real name, but in this post we’ll call it Koala College. Brooke was looking in particular at Koala College’s page for education agents.

The agent page stated clearly that Koala College was seeking to grow its education agent network and was keen to hear from new education agents with an interest in representing the college. Interested agents were instructed to complete and submit an application form.

The application form was a pdf document that asked for a significant amount of information about the agency, its staff, track record, market knowledge, marketing techniques, and client references. Once complete new education agents were to submit the form to Koala College by email.

Sounds simple enough, and many universities, colleges and schools that use agents take the same approach. But let’s just pause there for a moment and consider what is actually involved for an agent who is interested in representing Koala College. They would have to:

  • Download the form.
  • Print it (it was not configured to be done online)
  • Fill it out – presumably by hand
  • Scan in the completed document and save it on their computer or device.
  • Attach it in an email to the institution.

It’s exhausting just thinking about the effort involved. Suffice to say it would take a prospective agent quite a bit of time to complete the process.

Many universities, colleges and schools have a very similar set up in place. The problem is that it sets up a very high barrier to contact by new education agents. It’s not a great approach if you want to use your institution’s website to have prospective agents contact you and grow your education agent network.

AgentBee’s free education agent network building and monitoring solution streamlines the process making it easy for education agents to submit, and institutions to manage, expressions of interest from new education agents.

Anyway, happily for Brooke, she was not submitting a new agent application to Koala College. Instead she was seeking out contact details so that she could advise Koala College that one of the authorised education agents listed on its website was the subject of one of our recent education agent alerts. (AgentBee tracks reported incidents of unprofessional and dishonest behaviour by education agents. Click here to see all agent alerts.)

She found the email address, fired off an email and waited. A day or so later she got a reply:

Thank you for your interest in representing Koala College. Please note that we are not accepting new education agent applications at this time.

‘Umm…OK’ thought Brooke. “My email didn’t say anything about wanting to represent Koala College.” Understandably Brooke was a bit annoyed. It was clear that her email had not been read, and she had probably received an automatically generated response.

As Brooke stared angrily at the offending email, wallowing in self-righteous indignation, the true implication of what just happened dawned on her. What if she had been an education agent who did complete the time consuming new agent application process. They would invest lots of time and effort only to get the same we’re-not-recruiting-agents-after-all email that Brooke received.

Now an education agent in that position would be within their rights to be really, really annoyed. Reading between the lines of Koala College’s automatically generated email, what it is actually saying is:

We couldn’t be bothered updating our website to make it clear that we are not currently recruiting new education agents. It was much quicker and easier for us to set up this automatic response. As a result you’ve just wasted a heap of time for nothing. Have a nice day.

It’s stating the obvious to say that Koala College’s approach is not the way to build a good reputation with potential agents. To be blunt, it is simply unprofessional.

It is perfectly reasonable to halt or pause your education agent networking building efforts. You may need some time to assess your strategy or take stock of the performance of your current agents. If that’s where you’re at make sure your website makes that clear. It’s a simple edit that could save agents a heap of time.

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