China outbound expected to improve
Amid the news that China’s inbound market looks to recover at a “gradual and slow” pace, stakeholders suggest that there might be more “significant” improvement in China’s outbound study market.
Agencies and study abroad service providers in the country are beginning to see a “steady rise” as they continue to promote all kinds of programs, according to chief marketing officer at Sinorbis, Vijay Solanki.
“We expect the easing of restrictions will help improve Chinese student mobility. We hear that there’s strong demand in China for global study from agents, and from our clients,” Solanki told The PIE.
In a report Sinorbis wrote in collaboration with industry partners BOSSA – Chinese students, Uncoded – the insight does agree that appetite for global study “remains strong”.
BOSSA, which collaborated on the report with Sinorbis, also expressed confidence in a probable bounce-back.
“China’s study abroad service industry will also continue to recover”
“China’s study abroad service industry will also continue to recover, as we believe it has reached the bottom of its 2.5-year decline and is steadily rising again,” Jon Santangelo of BOSSA told The PIE News.
However, another insight the report gives is that anxieties are cropping up in the Chinese global study abroad market. Safety is now the number one concern that many students have, followed closely by the cost of living and academic performance.
“It’s hard to tell [whether anxieties will grow],” said Solanki.
“Anxieties develop according to situations outside of most HEIs control and will shift in nuance between destination countries and institutions, which is why it’s so important to consistently engage with your own prospective and current Chinese students, along with news and industry insight,” he explained.
BONARD’s latest research shows that almost 100% of agencies are in fact promoting these higher education-related programs, whereas other sectors like K12, ELT and summer courses are not being promoted.
“As it is common for Chinese agencies not to focus on only one program type or destination country, more direct flights benefitting one sector might bring a boost to the international education market overall,” said Grace Zhu, BONARD’s China branch manager.
Direct flights into China have now resumed from a number of destinations, including multiple UK destinations, India and Pakistan – however, outbound flights for many services are still waiting to be announced in due course.
However, these flights into China could also positively affect the outbound market.
“Overseas educators can travel more easily into China to meet with agencies and students, build in-person trust and increase the number of new conversations,” Zhu explained.
“With educators sharing the latest information, the market can bounce back faster,” she added.
The Sinorbis report also indicated that some provinces were more interested in global study than others – with the most engagement “unsurprisingly” cropping up in populated provinces such as Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai.
“The outbound market, like the inbound market, will recover, but not overnight”
Either way, the road to global study for Chinese international students is a long process, Solanki insisted.
“The Chinese student journey is longer, with around four in 10 prospective students spending two or more years researching global options before their study begins. It may take a couple of years before HEIs see the full impact of brand building campaigns in China.
“But sustained activity across the year, rather than in spurts, also allows you to develop better analytics and buffers you in case of short-term disruptions. On a positive note, Chinese students have shown remarkable resilience and commitment to continue with global study despite short-term disruptions and delays,” Solanki explained.
Essentially, the message to educators and agencies is to keep going – that recovery will come, and the market will pick up.
“The outbound market, like the inbound market, will recover, but not overnight. Flight options are not the only key factor for most agencies and students. What is more important is how educators and agencies fully maximise the opportunity,” Zhu added.