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Post-lockdown ‘study-abroad fever’ - Chinese student recruitment

Higher education is a growing segment of the global educational market worth trillions. China is the top sender of international students globally and has been a significant driver of international student mobility growth for decades. Since the pandemic started in 2020, universities and academic institutions have been feeling a bit uneasy over the decrease in interest in pursuing study abroad in Western countries among Chinese students. But now it seems like the study-abroad fever is making a comeback in China this summer.

How to attract chinese students ? The pandemic has led to a significant drop in the number of Chinese students studying abroad. According to the Institute of International Education, after the coronavirus outbreak started, in the 2020-2021 academic year, the Chinese students, who form the largest percentage of international students in the United States, witnessed a 14.8% decline from the previous year. However, China's outbound students flow is expected to experience growth in 2022 and here's why.


China, the world's second-largest population

First, China has the world's second-largest population of young adults (exceeding 100 million as of 2020). It also has long been the number one source of international students. In fact, as of 2019, Chinese account for nearly one-third of all international students enrolled in U.S. institutions. So, when we gradually recover from the coronavirus pandemic, China will remain a massive marketplace with a strong demand for studying abroad. As campus reopens in 2022 and travel restrictions lift, there will be a growing interest in studying abroad among the Chinese.


Lockdowns no more

Second, lockdown fatigues are inspiring more people in China to look into studying or even emigrating abroad.

On March 28th, Shanghai went into a nearly two-month complete lockdown to flatten the curve. Around the same time, Jilin and some other parts of China (such as Shenzhen in Guangdong) were also placed under lockdown, which, to many, felt like it was at the beginning of 2020 all over again. The lockdown in Shanghai had forced people to switch to survival mode when work was delayed, schools were closed, businesses were decimated, and even food was in shortage. It had created a deep sense of insecurity. More and more Chinese, especially among the middle-upper class, are considering leaving. Immigrations firms have seen an explosion of inquiries since March 2022, and even after the lockdown lifted, requests kept flooding in.


In April, the number of people searching for studying abroad in locked-down areas went up sharply on Baidu, Wechat and Weibo. According to Sunrise, on Baidu, Immigration-related searches in Jiangsu province increased 24 times in April. Over a similar period, the same searches on WeChat increased by 440%, up to about 50 million searches. On Weibo, immigration-related searches spiked 15 times their normal levels. This has translated into study-abroad-related searches, which rose at the same time on Baidu.

Both reasons could drive international enrolment growth of China's outbound students in 2022, which presents opportunities for universities and academic institutions to re-engage the Chinese market. We believe it's essential for schools to reach out to students now. However, this might also present challenges. For example, schools and universities will need to re-evaluate the target audience (as more young professionals are also looking at study abroad opportunities post-lockdown). You may struggle with finding out the parents' and students' concerns and addressing those concerns in your messages, connecting with Gen Zers in the right tones and on the right platforms, managing your social media ecosystem etc. But don't worry, we have you covered!

Duhno is a strategic marketing consulting firm that helps international educational institutions to attract the attention of Chinese students and their families. Our team consists of experienced business and marketing consultants, data scientists and media planners to help analyze your school/institution's situation, forecast potential futures, and recommend marketing plans. We also work hand in hand with schools and their ecosystem in China (agent, partner schools and universities) and abroad (HQ, Global marketing team) to successfully execute those plans.

Would you like to know how to get noticed by Chinese students and get on top of their destination’s list? Get in touch now!

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