With a completely different culture, language, and internet ecosystem, getting started in Chinese student recruitment can be difficult. Here are several strategies for institutions to increase their visibility in China and reach more students.
Before jumping into the marketing recommendations, it might be helpful to have a quick glimpse at the recruitment landscape for Chinese students:
Number Based on data collected by Chinese Minster of education, 608,400 Chinese students left China to pursue studies overseas which makes China the largest countries of origin for international students in 2017, especially in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. Among these students, 88.97% are self-funded, while others receive governmental or local funds for their programs.
Academic Interests When it comes to academic subjects, according to Annual Report on The Development of Chinese Students Studying Abroad 2015 No. 4 & 2017 No. 6, foreign language, education, and business management degree programs continue to win popularity among Chinese candidates. Historically, engineering science, technology, computer science, math, statistics, and social science fields have been popular but recent data suggests they are losing popularity.
Changing Demographics Recently, growth in the number of overseas high school attendees has outpaced the number of college students in some countries. Of all Chinese students studying abroad, the share of students going abroad for high school has increased from 17% to 27%, while the proportion going abroad for bachelor programs has dropped from 61% to 44% (Data from Annual Report on The Development of Chinese Students Studying Abroad,2017 No. 6, & 2015 No. 4)
Strategies for Recruiting more Chinese students
First, start increasing your institution’s visibility online. Websites, search engines, and social media allow you to quickly and easily connect with students without leaving your desk:
1. Create a website for specifically for Chinese users.
Chinese students may not be able to access your institution’s website in China. Or, if they can, the load time may be slow or some webpage elements (videos, forms, blogs) may be blocked. In fact, we found that the large majority – 77 percent – of foreign universities have some admissions content that can’t be accessed in China.
2. Set up an official WeChat account.
With around 800 million active users per day, WeChat is the largest social media platform in China. Having an official account helps your institution reach a great number of candidates efficiently. However, to register, schools need a Chinese national ID or a registered Chinese company’s serial number.
3. Check your Search Engine Optimization on Baidu.
Baidu is the Chinese version of Google. Google cannot be accessed in China, so make sure that your website and news can be found by Chinese internet users.
Once your online information is accessible to students across China, expand your recruitment channels to include offline and in-country resources:
4. Cooperate with Chinese recruitment agencies.
Usually, large education agencies have partnerships with hundreds of foreign institutions. Also, they have strong partnerships and marketing strategies in China for connecting with students. Meanwhile, schools pay commission or referral fees for students that enroll.
5. Cooperate with a Chinese educational institution.
Cooperation and partnerships not only bring recognition and reputation among Chinese students and parents but they also secure a steady flow of international applications through exchanges or joint-programs (such as “3+1” or “2+2” models). Currently, there are more than 400 Chinese-foreign joint programs recognized by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
Finally, utilize your school’s alumni and academics. This will help bolster your school’s reputation and recognition, setting you (and your students) up for long-term success in China:
6. Mobilize your alumni and host events in China.
There is a growing number of Chinese students coming back to China after graduation. Because of their first-hand experience, these alumni are the most powerful spokespeople for your institution. Engaging your alumni in your marketing activities helps your institution gain recognition reputation among Chinese applicants. To start, you may set up a local alumni association and host events regularly, such as an annual gala, a prospective student Q&A, or a scholarship award ceremony.
7. Highlight your school’s ranking and academic strengths.
Roughly 80 percent of Chinese applicants report they would prefer to attend a top-200 university. Major rankings used by Chinese students include U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education, and QS Global.
However, if your institution does not appear in the top-200, don’t worry – there are many Chinese students looking for schools with just the right fit. Still, you should emphasize your academic strengths – perhaps your school is highly-ranked in a certain field or your faculty has been recognized for teaching quality.
For high schools and preparatory academies, be sure to show your connections with prestigious universities. Maybe you have a partnership with a well-ranked school, or your graduates have a track record of getting admitted to elite programs. These aspects speak toward the educational quality of your school and the success of your graduates.
Finally, we hope eduFair can be a recruitment solution for you in China. We are building a free platform to make it easier for Chinese students and international schools to connect. If you have any ideas on how to make recruitment easier, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our contact form.