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Talent Talks: Uri Carnat on the International Education Industry, and the Role of ApplyBoard

Uri Carnat headshot

In our Talent Talks series, leaders at ApplyBoard will share their professional knowledge and experience across their respective areas of expertise. At ApplyBoard, we have great leaders, who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in their respective fields. These stories are meant to show off some of their knowledge, and inspire you to join our team!

In this edition, it’s our pleasure to feature Uri Carnat, Director of Strategic Partnerships at ApplyBoard. Uri is an international education veteran with many years of experience in the sector. With this wealth of experience, Uri is focused on developing and expanding school partnerships to create additional opportunities for students interested in studying abroad.

Hi, my name’s Uri Carnat, and this is a short(ish) story about my experience in international education, and how I ended up working for ApplyBoard. Along the way, maybe I can help job seekers looking to work in the sector—or, better yet, at ApplyBoard!—with what they should know coming in.

Uri Carnat headshot

Uri Carnat, Director of Partner Relations at ApplyBoard

About Uri

I’ve had the opportunity to work in the international education sector for a number of years. After university and a few interesting jobs, I started teaching on the side at language schools in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In Montreal, there are a lot of French professionals (from both Quebec and France) looking to improve their English, and these were my first “élèves” (students). Eventually, my teaching gigs expanded to involve international students from around the world.

After about a year of teaching, an administrative position opened up at one of the schools. They were looking for a full-time Program Coordinator to be in charge of student services and marketing. I had already volunteered here, and was lucky to be given the position and began my first full-time role in the industry. 

After about a year of learning the ropes and gaining experience, I became School Director. This role entailed managing a team of professionals in academics, accommodations, marketing, and student services, working closely to support students and our recruitment partners. With the success of the work at this school, I was given the opportunity to be the Regional Director for all 12 North American locations. Over seven years with the organization, I learned so much about the industry, and I had the chance to travel the world to work with great teams of colleagues at each school and across the globe.. I have enormous respect for people working in the private language sector – for their dedication to students, their focus on providing excellent services, and the day-to-day involvement in helping students reach their goals.

My next position was with a big Australian student recruitment firm, opening Canada as a destination for international students. This role involved signing university and college agreements, building a super team in Canada, and working with great colleagues from around the world. Over the course of my work, I also got to grow our IELTS testing relationships across Canada and Latin America, and supported the opening of our own testing units which became the largest in the Americas. During this time, I also had the opportunity to present at conferences, learning from super talented colleagues from all areas of the industry.

I’m lucky to be married to an amazing and patient woman, and to be a father to three growing kids. I can’t overstate the importance of a good personal support network, and that extends to colleagues. We spend so much time at work and with our colleagues. Authentically becoming part of each other’s lives and understanding the person underneath the work persona makes our professional time more meaningful and productive.

Current Trends in International Education

When pursuing international studies, many students leave behind family, friends, and in some cases successful careers, in order to access new opportunities. As international education professionals, we have the pleasure of hearing these stories, getting to know our students, and learning about their uplifting personal journeys.

Across all of my different roles in the sector, one thing has remained consistent — the work is based on a commitment to helping people. At ApplyBoard, it informs everything we do, adding value to the lives of students and meaning to ours.

What is the position of the industry right now, given our current global economic climate?

COVID-19 has obviously impacted students and institutions across the world. Despite this, the motivations for students to study, travel, learn and have adventures that help improve their lives are as strong as ever. The industry faced similar challenges in the past  – one example was the 2008/2009 economic crisis, which initially impacted the student movement. But, following an initial downturn, student numbers recovered and continued to grow in subsequent years.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments were already under financial pressures impacting their ability to support domestic education. Exacerbated in the current environment, these funding pressures have resulted in a growing focus on the economic impact of international education, alongside philosophical, diplomatic, and pedagogical motivations. We see ongoing growth in public-private partnerships in support of institutions and governments, and ApplyBoard has a key role to play here.

Uri and colleagues at the CBIE Conference

Uri and colleagues at the Canadian Bureau for International Education Conference in 2019

What do recent trends suggest about the future of the industry?

I’ve shared the metaphor in the past about international students being like water poured on the centre of a table. As policy changes take place at a national and institutional level, the legs of the table lift and students change their decisions about where to study. To ensure that we are creating the best opportunities possible, countries, institutions, and organizations need constant solicitation of student feedback and other stakeholders feedback, and ongoing assessment of the value we are creating, or the barriers we are unintentionally creating.

While countries are generally supportive of a healthy community of international learners for philosophical, diplomatic, and economic reasons, controlling quality and mitigating risk are ongoing and growing concerns. It’s this quality control that sustains public support for the international education sector, and so innovative solutions to these issues are of key interest to everyone.

What are some changes you have seen during your time in the industry?

One of the biggest changes has been the use of technology. In the past, there would be mornings that I’d arrive at a stack of faxed application forms. Our ability to leverage instant and multi-channel communication has allowed us to deliver better services to students, provide them faster replies on the status of their applications, and to support them in real-time throughout their journey.

Visa and immigration processes and policies across multiple destination countries have also undergone successive changes, which has had an impact on student choice. Government policy has a significant influence on student decisions, and it’s important that as a community of educators and those supporting students, we consult them and others in advance of these decisions. We need to be constantly taking student and stakeholder feedback, balancing the best outcomes for students, institutions, and their communities and host- countries.

How does ApplyBoard support industry growth?

In about every way possible.

As a global platform, ApplyBoard links students, recruitment partners, and schools all over the world. We provide support at all steps of the student journey, for students, the recruitment agencies they may be working with, and the institutions they have chosen to study.

For students seeking international study opportunities, ApplyBoard offers a platform to search and compare options across countries and institutions. Students often choose to work with local recruiters who are also able to use the ApplyBoard Platform to assist their students. Additionally, through relationships with institutions, we are able to offer exclusive study opportunities for students.

ApplyBoard has built partnerships with over 1,200 institutions across Canada, the United States, the UK, and Australia. Many institutions are looking for more international students, and always from more diverse countries. We support these schools by growing branding and presence in key countries around the world and facilitating ever-more effective relationships between recruitment partners and schools.

Institutions typically spend a tremendous amount of time and resources responding to student enquiries and helping them put together successful applications. ApplyBoard provides great solutions here, vetting applications and providing support to students, which helps ensure that institutions only receive complete and qualified applications. We have lots of data linking conversion rates to the speed at which a school can issue an offer letter. With the quality of our vetting and subsequent applications, we support schools in the quick turn-around of these offer letters, ensuring less work on behalf of schools to increase student numbers and international diversity.

Uri and colleagues at an industry conference

Uri and colleagues at an industry conference

What Makes ApplyBoard a Great Employer

ApplyBoard is a young, socially conscious and socially relevant organization. We are scaling quickly, so there’s plenty of opportunities to contribute and grow a career, but the company is also big enough to provide security and assurance in an uncertain world.

The global footprint of the team, for both student source countries and destination countries, provides a great value proposition to all of our stakeholders—students, schools, recruitment partners, and industry colleagues.

At a time of financial uncertainty for many in the sector and around the world, ApplyBoard’s funding has cushioned the team against some of the unfortunate impacts felt by others in the industry.

What are some advantages of working at ApplyBoard?

As a young and growing company, there is tremendous opportunity to contribute to what ApplyBoard is becoming and becomes. The ApplyBoard Team is really committed to the success of all of the people who work for the organization. Our voices all matter and we’re recognized for the positive changes we create. Working for a rising tech star- we recently announced a $70 Million Series C Funding Extension and partnership with ETS, Ranked #3 on LinkedIn’s 2020 Top StartUps List in Canada, and announced a new partnership with Times Higher Education – is a great career choice, and will contribute to your professional pedigree, no matter where you go next.

Uri and colleagues celebrate ApplyBoard's CIX Top 10 Growth award

Uri and colleagues celebrating ApplyBoard’s CIX Top 10 Growth award

Concluding Thoughts

Regardless of the role you play in international education, always work super hard, and never forget the value that your work helps bring to students. Regardless of the role you play in international education, always work super hard, and never forget the value that your work helps bring to students. Make the world a better place, and take every problem as an opportunity to think critically so that similar issues happen less frequently in the future. Work with great people on great teams and be super grateful for the opportunities we’ve been given. The best way to predict the future is to create it.


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