Choosing an education agent that's right for you

Blog for students
30 May 2023
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Alexandra is a first year law student at the University of Bristol from Malaysia. In this blog, Alexandra shares her experience speaking about education agents at an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Students event in London and provides helpful tips on choosing an education agent. 

When I received an email from my education agent inviting me to share my personal experience with education agents in an interview session at the House of Lords, I seized the opportunity.  

To my surprise, the event was an APPG for International Students in London! An APPG is a group of cross-party Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the House of Lords who come together to focus on a particular issue or topic. These groups aim to provide a forum for discussion and debate on matters of common interest, and to promote awareness of a particular issue or cause.  

I was so excited and nervous to meet and speak to MPs that I would otherwise only read about on news blogs like BBC News or the Guardian. It was a wonderful experience meeting inspiring speakers I strive to emulate in the future, who presented their points with passion and amazing public speaking skills. Afterwards, I even got the chance to explore London for a few hours before heading back to Bristol. 

My experience with education agents 

As I am still in the first year of my undergraduate studies, my experience with education agents was still fresh in my mind at the APPG event. Education agents can provide a range of services to international students, including advice on course selection, assistance with applications and visa applications, and support with accommodation and other logistical matters. Agents can also provide valuable insights into the local culture and education system and can help students to navigate the sometimes complex process of enrolling in an institution foreign to them.  

Based on my personal requirements, my education agent assisted me in determining my ideal university, which had an affordable cost of living and a good work-life balance. They also informed me about culture and student life in the city. They answered my many visa questions, and patiently read and replied to all of my emails within a day or two.  

Helpful tips for choosing an education agent 

If you are considering using an agent to help you with your education journey, here are some top tips to keep in mind: 

  1. Do your research: take the time to research different agents and choose one who is reputable and experienced. If you know which country you want to study in, you can search for agents that specialise in that country, as they will have the necessary expertise to answer any questions you might have. Consult Study UK’s student guide to choose an education agent. It provides advice on identifying good quality education agents, as well as helpful questions to ask when making your decision. 
  2. Ask for references: ask the agent to provide references from previous clients and check online reviews to see what others have said about their services. Ask your friends, teachers or education counsellors in your school as they might have good recommendations! In my case, my college education advisor recommended the agent I went through, as many previous students had good experiences with them. 
  3. Check their credentials: look for agents who are members of professional organisations, and who have the necessary qualifications and experience to provide high-quality advice and support. If you are looking to study in the UK, it is important to check if they are listed on the British Council’s database of certified agents and counsellors as this will ensure they have completed the relevant training to understand the needs of international students aiming to study in the UK. This is necessary to avoid being scammed. 
  4. Be clear about your goals: make sure that you communicate your goals and expectations clearly to the agent, so they can provide the best possible advice and support. This is especially important if you already have a subject or university in mind. They will provide you with guidance and help you prepare for the application process using practice interviews and examination workshops.
  5. Stay informed: always ask questions if you are unsure about anything, so you can make informed decisions about your education journey. Do not be shy—there are no silly questions, whether about entry requirements, applying for a visa, the cost of living, or basic information about the culture. You need to know these things to avoid being caught off guard and suffering the consequences later.  

Attending the APPG event was a valuable and unforgettable experience that allowed me to share my personal experience with education agents and learn more about the important work being done to improve the quality of services provided by agents in the education sector.  

My experience using an agent was positive, and I hope that my top tips for students considering using an agent will help you to make informed decisions. By doing your research, checking credentials, and staying informed, you can ensure that you receive high-quality advice and support from a reputable agent who will help you achieve your education goals.  

My final piece of advice is to enjoy the process. Have fun applying and researching as you are only going to be in university for a short time in your life. I wish everyone applying to university the best of luck.  

Find out more about choosing an education agent in Study UK's student guide. The UK AQF Agent Quality Framework is an initiative developed by a group of education sector organisations, including the British Universities' International Liaison Association (BUILA), the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), Universities UK International (UUKi) and the British Council.