Challenges and opportunities for new pathway programs in China

Published 31/01/2023

The study abroad industry in China saw accelerated growth in the past 20 years, along with the expansion of China’s higher education and the growth of average household income, self-sponsored studying abroad has become increasingly popular for many Chinese families.

Even with the drastic decline in 2020 primarily attributed to the pandemic, China remains the primary sending country of international students to traditional study abroad destinations like the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

The demand for overseas education has continued, if not strengthened, as we return to pre-pandemic life, but those demands have changed. Our experience and follow-up research with Chinese agents and students show great challenges for conventional pathway programs but also present opportunities for reinvention.

Pathway programs, including universities’ own programs as well as third-party pathway programs had great success in generating recruitment and admission results for various institutions. However, conventional pathway programs are losing appeals to Chinese families.

To most of the Chinese families looking into studying abroad, pathway programs are essentially language programs that increase costs and time abroad. Circumstances have changed and they have a lot more options now.

Public and private English language education has come a long way in China, more are meeting the language requirements for degree programs. Chinese international students are generally more prepared to study abroad in terms of learning and adapting capability.

At the same time, there are more options and alternatives now than ever before.

“Private tutoring in China would still be cheaper and faster than going through some of the pathway programs”

They can choose other programs which have lower requirements. The continuously growing international programs offered within China is another viable option. And they can always choose to improve their English through private tutoring in China, which would still be cheaper and faster than going through some of the pathway programs.

Our findings suggest the growth opportunity lies with those increasingly pragmatic about their study abroad objectives and experiences. We created a program to resolve three main concerns those students have: lack of academic preparation, save time, save money.

First of all, many Chinese students do not have much control over their undergraduate major and it is almost impossible to change major, so if they wish to study something different at the graduate level, this can help them enhance their academic preparation.

Secondly, being able to take those courses in their senior year means they do not have to waste months or even a year before they can start their graduate degree work. Even if they decide not to change their field of study after the PMBC, they would not have wasted any time.

Last but not least, taking the courses online is significantly cheaper than participating in offline pathway programs.

When we first started the program in 2019, there were few similar programs in the market, but earlier this year, we noticed a few with even more course offerings, mostly STEM courses. We would love to see institutions and corporate players becoming more flexible and humane to help Chinese students achieve their goals through reinventing their programs.

About the author: This is a sponsored post from the team at HYP Global. Founded in 2019 in Shanghai China and Philadelphia, HYP Global specialises in recruitment marketing and collaborating with world-renowned higher education institutions in offering creative pathway programs

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