Chinese students ‘prefer UK to other study destinations’

Demand for study abroad from prospective students across China remains strong, and the future looks particularly bright for UK institutions, according to a new report.

Based on more than 3.7 million study abroad-related online engagement records among prospective students in China, data collected by Chinese marketing platform Sinorbis indicates a higher level of interest for study in the UK than in other major destinations including the US, Australia, Canada, France, Singapore and Japan.

The data, from the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association (BOSSA), China’s trade association for overseas study service agencies, shows that prospective students’ preference for the UK follows a different trajectory in the “long tail” – with a higher level of interest. by students from third- and lower-tier cities. “This long tail is key to future international recruiting efforts,” says Sinorbis report.

“Online is an even more important channel to reach these new consumers,” he adds. “Universities targeting growth will continue to increase their digital capacity and find new audiences in these regions.”

Katherine Pei, regional manager at City, University of London, which oversees the university’s recruitment in China and South Korea, said Times Higher Education“For future students in first- and second-tier cities, they enjoy location advantages with more exchange opportunities and language learning resources in larger cities; while for students at lower levels, the pandemic has not weakened their motivation to study abroad.

Ms. Pei pointed out that employability and career success are always key in students’ decision-making, as overseas experience is preferable for recruitment. She said, “There are less job opportunities in lower-tier cities, so it’s a must for these students to improve their competitiveness, that’s why they always want to go abroad.”

When it comes to student concerns, safety has become the number one concern for Chinese students wishing to study abroad, followed by cost of living, concerns over academic skills, cultural differences, and the fact that they do not feel welcome, according to the Sinorbis report.

Ms Pei said: “From my contacts with Chinese students and parents, the border restriction is important, but one factor that matters most to them is whether students can return to China without problems after the end of the school year. graduation.”

John McNamara, Head of Global Research at the British Council, said: “2022-23 presents a mixed picture in terms of recruitment from China, with some HEIs reporting growth while others see a decline in applications.

“Another factor to consider is the return of Australia, which is seeing a rebound in recruitment in several of its key markets like India and Nepal, but not yet for China.

“While the UK has strong winds in its sails, it will face a more competitive environment in the future, as the US, Canada and Australia come back into full swing, and destinations of EU studies such as Germany and the Netherlands continue to grow.”

The Sinorbis report also reveals that artificial intelligence has become the most trending topic for prospective students, with a 54% increase in searches in 2022 on Baidu, the country’s largest online search engine, compared to the ‘last year. Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and automation and big data technology are some of the other most sought-after subjects.

These results likely reflect the country’s push for advancements in high-tech fields, such as artificial intelligence, quantum technology, semiconductors, where a new enrollment program has been launched to boost research and institutions have added additional training to their students to improve career prospects. .

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