The question we are often asked is: Why? Why remain committed to the UK?
We will soon be launching a new brand. It’s bold, professional, and strikes a very British tone—you would expect it to given that it’s red, white, and blue. As part of the process, we engaged over 5,000 staff, applicants, current students, and partners to gauge their opinions on which logo and format they preferred the best. During the process, several of our partners reached out and asked why those colours did not limit us for the future.
The answer is yes; it does limit us, but for AHZ, that’s a good thing. Our focus has been on sustainable growth and maintaining existing relationships whilst growing our portfolio for future students.
The British Council
The reason for remaining exclusively UK is a little more complex, and it dates back to 2011 when AHZ started. At the time, AHZ Associates was new to the student recruitment market and needed to make a splash that would kick start its business and allow it to grow into the business it is today. AHZ took the decision to partner with the British Council in Bangladesh and host an exhibition to attract potential students. The caveat, of course, was that AHZ could only send applications to UK universities.
This partnership with the British Council grew, and as AHZ grew, they continued to work with the British Council the world over and remain very close to them today. The commitment to the UK that was made more than a decade ago stands today, and it’s the basis for AHZ staying the course.
Over the years, there has been a stronger and stronger pull towards remaining UK exclusive, and that is wholly down to the partners we work with. We currently represent more than 100 institutions, and our relationship with them is stronger than ever. There is a lot more we can still do, and we have some projects in the pipeline that we hope will strengthen our bond and allow us to build more partnerships over the coming months and years.
“It’s easy to make relationships and build friendships, but it’s also easy to lose them”
The UK HE sector is a small circle, and it’s easy to make relationships and build friendships, but it’s also easy to lose them. Our view is that we owe it to ourselves and our current and future UK partnerships not to spread ourselves too thin; that wouldn’t benefit either of us and adding the number of partners required to excel in a country just isn’t worth giving up what we’ve built.
Over the years, there have been, of course, other reasons not to diversify into markets, and the relationship between AHZ and UK institutions is far greater than we could expect to build in other countries. The question is often asked of ourselves: “Why would we want or need to?”
Our commitment to the UK has had some unintended consequences; one of the biggest and arguably the most important is our staff. Our staff are UK-focused; they don’t need to learn about studying in other countries and are instead able to highlight the benefits of the UK experience exclusively. A majority of our counsellors have themselves studied in the UK, and as much as it’s not a pre-requisite, it certainly helps.
It’s for this reason that we see thousands of recommendations come through to our teams each year. We are often inundated with requests to support friends, families, and children with their intention to study in the UK, and that is what makes us known.
This feels like the sector word of 2023. Every partner we speak to is looking at how they diversify their campuses, and it’s certainly the right thing to do. There is often an over-reliance on particular markets that does very little to enhance the student experience. AHZ itself is diversifying into new territories, into new projects, and developing ways to enhance our offer.
Our commitment to the UK doesn’t mean that we aren’t committed to growth; it is instead a reflection of our loyalty and our thanks to all those who have supported our growth over the past decade.
About the author: This is a sponsored post from Benjamin Bilverstone, chief operations officer at AHZ. AHZ is one of the UK’s largest international student recruitment agencies. AHZ has a global network of offices that exclusively provide support to international students wishing to study in the UK.