China Remains a Crucial Student Recruitment Market This Year

China

China’s college-aged cohort has been experiencing a decline, and studies predict that the decline is expected to continue through 2025 as well.

All this has been associated with slower growth for Chinese outbound students, especially a slow flow of Chinese students for the leading global destinations such as the US, Canada and Australia. The latter has relied on China to attract international enrollment increase during the last decades, Erudera reports.

Yet, the market specialist David Weeks who is a chief operating officer of Sunrise International Education, a provider of experiential and extracurricular education across China, said that it is still essential to remember that China is an“indispensable recruitment market” due to its size combination, wealth, as well as other demand factors.

“Chinese students still want to study abroad because of the many disadvantages of China’s domestic university system,” he said.

Earlier this month, together with Sunrise co-founder Gavin Newton Tanzer, Weeks presented at the annual conference of the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC).

According to Weeks, once the pandemic restrictions on travel and visas lift, there will be increased interest in studying abroad, raising the question which universities will be better positioned to seize that interest.

“If your university hasn’t been reaching out to students, you are going to have less leads in the pipeline once it is possible for students to travel [again],” he added.

Among others, he noted the following:

  • 130 cities across the country have more than a million residents each.
  • Population in China is ageing, but it is middle class – the essential group that has the inclination and the means to study abroad – is growing faster, and in particular in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
  • The education system is correspondingly enormous, a half-million students in international K-12 schools alone.
  • China’s economy has mostly recuperated from COVID-19 pandemic.

The presentation also outlined some near-term suggestions for recruiting China, such as:

  • Education activities have begun to resume; therefore, the event schedule is expected to expand in 2021.
  • Entry border restrictions for non-Chinese citizens remain into force, which means that the recruitment will have to be carried out by in-country staff or by Chinese citizens, including staff, students or alumni living overseas.
  • Education materials, including those online, must be localized for the Chinese market to highlight inclusiveness, graduate results as well as safety.
  • Time has come to grow frequency and communication responsiveness with agent partners in China, and streamline admissions and payment procedures as much as possible.
  • Strengthen career support services for returning graduates in order to increase their career opportunities and in turn; the recruitment appeals to potential students.

Importance of Digital Recruitment Channels Increases in China

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in China and the world, all recruitment activities in the country had to shift online this year, increasing the importance of digital recruitment channels.

During the presentation, Newton Tanzer pointed out that online activities for students have become difficult to organize due to time differences between China and other study destinations.

“Now we’re seeing upwards of 50 or 60 events a month, sometimes even 80 or 100 events in a month, and it is starting to be more difficult getting people to attend.”

He added that another crucial strategy in the digital-heavy recruitment context this year is adapting online content for China, claiming that even today there are many universities which are not localizing their websites for China.

He announced that of the latest survey including 2,000 websites, carried out by international companies and institutions aimed at Chinese users, the majority or 94 per cent were blocked in China or had long time page load, virtually none had any content localization for China whereas 89 per cent were not optimized for search engines in China.

The main channels used to reach students include:

  • WeChat with 1.17 billion users
  • Weibo with 523 million users

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