Prospective partner universities must be aware that the My Study Australia website has been created for the Australian Education Connection (AEC program), with a view to providing students, parents and advisers information about semester abroad, year abroad, full degrees, transfer and internship programs to Australia at direct enrollment prices. Information about direct enrollment is listed on this website. There is also information about student services. It is important to state that students undertaking AEC programs have access to all student services including assistance and information on scholarships, financial aid, orientation, arrival and other services.
Prospective partners are asked to spend some time on the My Study Australia website in order to gain an understanding of the work the AEC undertakes to bring students direct enrollment prices. Importantly, prospective partner universities should also be aware that through the AEC maintaining a direct enrolment presence in the North American market, prices charged by other programs to Australia remain competitive.
The AEC does not request exclusive contracts or arrangements with Partners for the following reasons:
- The AEC would like prospective North American students to have access to a multitude of university options.
- The AEC wants to provide unbiased advice to students so we prefer to have a large contingent of universities on our books.
- AEC partner universities have the freedom of managing as many partnerships abroad as they wish to and it avoids the dependence on any particular program or strategy to bring them all their students!
- The AEC is a small program so it would be counter productive to any university to depend solely on one small agency in a large market such as North America.
Some important information that you need to know about the AEC before you decide whether you want the AEC to be part of your network of agencies representing your university in the North American market.
- The AEC was set up in March 1997, after the first IDP Education Australia Office in the USA (1994-1996) closed in Florida. Joyce Noronha who managed the IDP North America operations, then opened a student processing agency on behalf of 17 Australian universities. Hence, commenced the AEC in Florida. Whilst there have been plenty of operational changes along the way, the original concept of the AEC has not changed. It is a unique organization - it operates almost as a non-profit. (For example, the organization’s income is shared by its staff.)
- The AEC is an Australian registered business in Canberra, ACT and Florida in the USA.
- The AEC requests only 3 sets of all university materials per year. We keep individual university material scanned on our system online. Our method of counseling involves counseling sessions via telephone, email and during visits to campuses. Often we provide students links to partner university web sites. This cuts down on the time it would normally take the student to research study options; it also saves partner universities money because you don’t need to send us boxes of materials or continuously brief us about your programs!
- Our small group works out of home offices in the USA and Australia – briefings can take place via teleconferencing or in person. AEC staff can also meet with Australian partners either at the annual NAFSA Conference or when AEC staff visit partner universities.
- The AEC does process smaller numbers of students. Why are numbers small? Firstly we are a small organization; secondly, we do not offer many of the incentives that are becoming very much a part of the `trade in education services’ business in North America. This is particularly in the area of semester and year abroad student recruitment. We have had to `balance’ the need for incentives against the overall cost of the study abroad experience for prospective students. Our mission is to keep the cost of study abroad affordable and to ensure that students are still going to Australia and New Zealand. We also offer students direct enrollment which means we do not charge students top-up fees beyond what the university charges in tuition.
- The AEC focus has not shifted. We remain focused mainly on semester/year abroad and full degree student processing and unlike some other organizations, we do not represent many countries and/or manage travel and housing businesses.
The AEC believes that the presence of an additional resource such as the AEC is important for the market place as it brings about healthy competition so the price of study abroad can remain competitive. This also ensures that there are no monopolies created in the market place by allowing only a select few programs that can raises prices on semester and year abroad programs at the detriment of Australian universities. Note that most programs operating in North America offer multi country options beyond Australia and New Zealand, therefore, increasing student fees can affect the Australia market, whilst not necessarily compromising a multi-country agency’s revenue.
Until 2006, the AEC was extremely active at many study abroad fairs across the US. However, after some 9 years of this strategy, the AEC learnt that participation at fairs even where the AEC is invited to the fair and talks to many, many students is not necessarily the sure way of recruiting semester/year abroad students. Some schools invite programs and overseas universities to come to their fairs in order to increase awareness of their international programs but then many of these universities have the largest displays of their own university managed programs (including faculty led programs and exchanges) and/or their preferred program partners at front of these study abroad fairs and students are directed to those particular programs. Therefore, the AEC is now very selective about the fairs we will participate in.
Integrity is extremely important to the AEC. It is in the spirit of this statement that the AEC makes its views known to prospective university partners. Only in this way can universities truly engage with the AEC.
What the AEC requires in return
- A commitment of fair play or a level playing field – For example, if your university in initiating a marketing plan in the US and carrying out an activity in conjunction with another US representative, we would expect the AEC to also be included.