In the tech world, we speak often about disrupting industries that are stuck in the past, using outdated systems, and working in ways that aren’t optimized for efficiency in a new tech-enabled world. Industries like healthcare, retail, and transportation have been completely upended by technology, but there’s still a behemoth that hasn’t really undergone much change in the last few decades and that’s the education industry.
This is a huge issue since education can have a direct impact on the economic development of a country. Many studies have shown a strong correlation between higher education and an increase in economic growth. According to a 2013 study from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, graduate skills accumulation contributed approximately 20% of GDP growth in the UK from 1982 – 2005.
Education is clearly a large contributor to economic growth, but because education has been largely static when it comes to innovation, there are still many barriers to entry for international students.
1. Lack of Access to Information on Educational Opportunities
One of the biggest issues that students face when researching higher education opportunities is that information about schools and study abroad programs are often fragmented and difficult to collect and analyze. That’s also one of the driving forces for students to approach educational agents for assistance. A lack of understanding of how university application processes work in other countries, coupled with less familiarity with the large number of options of undergraduate and post-graduate programs makes it near impossible to find and compile the information necessary to make an informed decision.
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2. Unethical Practices from Educational Agents
A study from the European Association for International Education found that 43% of all students in India use an educational agent to help them find and apply for schools. And with many domestic university programs completely filled, the need to look at schools abroad has become a priority. Having someone help navigate the often confusing world of international education by narrowing down school options; working through multiple application processes and requirements; and applying for student visas can be incredibly appealing.
The problem is that around 20% of educational agents are small players who work with only a handful of schools where they place students, regardless of how well a fit it is for their academic goals. Even worse, many agents receive compensation from both the student and the university, creating a conflict of interest that’s unethical at best and potentially illegal (in some countries) at worst.
3. High Cost of Consultations and Educational Support
According to the EAIE (the European Association for International Education), the average student cost for an agent is around $33,500 Rs with some students paying as high as $335,000 Rs. Even though many universities abroad have scholarships and tuition assistance set aside for international students, this lack of access to information about those programs and their availability creates a large barrier to entry for some students, who would be interested in studying abroad if they were aware of the opportunities that exist for them. Instead, many are stuck competing for available spots in local colleges and universities, which could persuade potential students to forgo university programs if there’s more demand than local schools are able to handle.
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4. Outdated Processes for Matching Students to Schools
In an age where retail companies are using data to almost perfectly predict future consumer purchases, the idea that choosing a university out of the tens of thousands of potential college programs is done primarily by hand is kind of shocking. We’ve never had more access to data to help drive our decisions – whether that’s deciding what to cook for dinner or finding the fastest route to the airport – and not using the same kind of data to help students find the best potential school fit is a huge lost opportunity.
Academics and a chosen course of study is just one part of finding the right university program, and data can help us fill in those gaps to find schools that are more than just the right academic fit, but also the right culture fit as well.
(Disclaimer: This is a guest post submitted on Techstory by the mentioned authors.All the contents and images in the article have been provided to Techstory by the authors of the article. Techstory is not responsible or liable for any content in this article.)
About The Author:
Daniel Bjarne is the CEO and Co-Founder of SchoolApply, an educational startup that helps take the guesswork out of choosing a school by matching students with colleges and universities.
Prior to founding SchoolApply, Daniel founded an e-commerce startup and worked internationally in tech and education at Google, Adobe, EF, and Hult International Business School.