How the Pandemic Impacted Student Recruiting in China

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Nicolas Chu, Founder and CEO at Sinorbis, joins the podcast to discuss how the pandemic has impacted international recruiting, specifically in China, as well as new digital recruitment strategies for increasing your international enrollments.

With Chinese digital marketing. I think first it is imperative to get the fundamentals of your base strategy in place. You know, you cannot adopt the said and forget mentality. It needs to be regularly managed, updated an the lies. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university. A proud member of the connect Evu podcast network, Him Eric Olson, with Helix Education, and we're here today with Nicholas to founder and CEO. It's Noorbus Niko. Welcome to the show. Thanks, Terry. Thanks for having me really excited to talk to today about how the pandemic has impacted international recruiting, specifically in China. But before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little bit of background on both yourself and Snorbius? Sure, sure, so. My Name Is Nicholas Jew I and the as you said, the CEO and founder of sinobus. We offer marketing, selftwear. That allows institutions, high education institutions, to create major and optimize the digital presence in Asia, especially in China, are without the need to be on the ground, and we will probably have the opportunity to discuss that. When you know how difficult it is, this makes us really quite unique. So we have, we have hundreds of your universities from all around the world that are using our platform to recruit international students from China. We have, you know, institutions such as UC Berkeley in get up, Hollis, Perdue, George Washington states in the US, but also, you know, ox had works in the UK, Tel Aviv in Israel and here in Australia, we're based. We have roughly sixty to sixty five percent of the...

...universities leveraging our platform. Yes, definitely excited to to dig into that that. You just talked about the difficulty of tracking dial recruitment specifically in China. Maybe they get the conversation started off Niko at a high level. How has the pandemic impacted international recruiting in China? So I would said two different things. The first this whole situation obviously promoted remote and hybrid learning opportunities everywhere in the world. You know, the border closures meant an explosion in online courses and local partnerships. Obviously not that different in China. You know, universities had to to get creative by offering online courses and pondering with institution on the ground in China to offer in person learning, for instance. And institutions such as rutgers universities did a great initiative through their rose initiative, you know, very early on and the pandemic, I believe it was around March two thousand and twenty, they provided first year under graduate students from China the opportunity to study at Pont a universities, you know, on the ground, receiving both, you know, in person and remote instruction. But secondly, I think, especially in China, it forced institutions to redefine the their recruitment strategies and focus more on digital, you know, within person events and recruitment fairs being canceled, recruiters had to to invest significantly in digital marketing opportunities, which is notoriously difficult in China for severed reasons that I mentioned earlier. So so, and I any other country you know, China has its own digital ecosystem and most of the marketing channels that we use in the West, you know, to promote an institution, are neither accessible nor popular in China. You know, there's no google, facebook, no Wikipedia, and your youtube and instead is by do so go, we Chad, wibow and and you q. So even having something as simple as a website that works well, you know, in this market that is you know that loads fast is not a given,...

...you know, when you don't have a presence on the ground. So recruiters discovered the importance of maintaining their their university's brand in China. What the borders were closed? So they will be top of mine when the borders would eventually open. And we can easily say that a key takeaway from from this pandemic has been the need for institutions to maintain an adaptive digital presence in China. Love it's super appreciate the current context. Let's go back a little bit, even prior to the pandemic. How have US immigration policies impacted international accruitment over the past several years and or we have we seen any change in policy with the current US administration? Very very good Christian. Yes, pandemic, you know, aside, obviously, with with the tramp administration and the approach to Chinese relations, trade and diplomacy, marked a low point, you know, for global rations, some of the trump effect, as we call it. You know, within the industry, strained relations with China and the increasingly complex visa demands and travel requirements. Simultaneously, Chinese students in the US experience and increase in races and counters. You know, I believe during this Paris we reported over six thousand incidents since the pandemic began. But you know, to to you in relation to the second part of your creation, however, Biden, the bindon administration can be can be the source of some optimism, you know, with the expectation of sustain growth in international student market, for instance, Biden has rejected, you know, proposal to for students visa holders to to leave the US immediately after four years of study and men move to win back immigration and student visa restrictions in pose, you know, by his predecessors. So so. But it's true that Canada and the UK and now become more desirable than the US to studio abroad, especially from China, which is very surprising because, you know, the US has has been the number...

...one for so many years. But despite all this, US institutions remain still very attractive thanks to the quality of the education. But I would say that more work is now needed to reassure students from China. You know from from everything that happened. Beyond political complexity, let's talk technological complexity. How do institutions need to think about digital recruitment strategies and China, all while navigating what is known as China's Great Fire Wall? He has the the great foul or the also known as the Golden Shield project. So first let me know, allow me to give it a bit of context. The so, for those who don't know that, the Chinese unlock. You know, the rest of the world, where we believe that there's only one Internet, actually there's there are two Internet's. Right. We have the one that we know in the US and the UK, in Australia, in the West in general, but there's also the Chinese one and and the Chinese Internet regulations, referred as you mentioned, as referred to as the Great Fire Wall, has led to a completely unique digital ecosystem. As, as a mentioned, earlier. Popular Western channels such as Google, facebook, twitter, youtube are blocked and instead you have by do, you have we chat, you have wayble and you could, and those are not just pale copies of what you have in the worst. They actually have evolved into their own separate ecosystem. So institutions that want to reach this market most adapt their digital recruiting strategy accordingly, and this often means starting from scratch with a dedicated Chinese website and a verified we chat account as the foundation. And that's what surprises me the most. Each other that we talked to an institution. They want to start doing some promotion advertising, but what they have, what they currently have, doesn't work actually, you know, in China. So what? Having a website that works well and and the social media account is pretty straightforward in the US. It is not...

...the case in China when you are not on the ground. So, for example, unless you have a what we call a specific business license in China and obtain what we describe and call an ICP finding. ICP stands for Internet content provider, an ICB finding on an ICP license, it's impossible to host your website in this country. And then it is almost impossible to have it load quickly because it will be slowed down by the fire wall, and also to show up in local search engines. As for we chat, which is, you know, a super APP in itself, it's used widely. You know, it's use almost for everything, for a wide range of daily activities like shopping and social media. There's a lot of red tap to create an official account, which is critical when you're not, you know, on the ground and and this is really one of the foundation to build trust with Chinese students so to successfully build a university brands and engage with Chinese students and education provider wanted to penetrate this market most understands and utilize this finally integrated web of digital products and services, and this is this is worst in office comes in. You know, we offer a first platform to remove the complexity of creating and measuring and optimizing, as I said, you know, institutions Jinny Chinese digital activities without the need to have a presence on the ground. In terms of China's, you know, desires per centralization, we're also seeing some of this centralization as they think about politicizing and legislating private education within their country. Do you believe that China's recent ban on private education providers impact US higher education enrollments, either for better or worse? MMM, yes, so I think it will impact, but actually I think for in a positive way, and that's that's the short and so the long, the long answer is that if you look at the crackdown, it's impacting China's domestic education scene, but I don't think that we will. I don't foresee that it international study plans for...

Chinese students would change. You know, according to statistics China, state owned public schools account for the single largest share of students planning to study a bird and without the cost of private tuition, more families may be willing to invest in international universities. You have to understand that it's the second largest span for family hasholds, you know, in China Education. So the crackdown may actually increase the demand for study approach. You know where the crack down may impact study abroad is is through student recruitment. You know, as these regulations titans, it may become increasingly difficult to form referral relationships through private new feeder institutions and as a result, going back to what I was saying, it becomes even more important to develop those digital methods to, you know, become relevant because super, super helpful. Finally, leave us with some next steps, advice per institutions who are looking to dive into the complexity. They want to develop more strategic international recruitment pathways through China. How should they think about that? Yeah, it's a it's a very good creation area. G I was actually ask a similar question, you know, a few months ago and and I answer then something that I'm going to to you to repeat today. I you know, before the pandemic. You know, over the last ten years it has become moving from being a nice to have to to become important to develop a digital presence in China. When you are an institution during the pandaving, this has become crucial. So so, you know, with Chinese digital marketing, I think first it is imperative to get the fundamentals of your base strategy in place. You know, you cannot adopt the set and forget mentality. It needs to be regularly managed, updated, you know, analyze. The more you put in, the better the results. This is another thing that we're saying. Sometimes one of the mistake that we're making is to trunderstand...

...these different to build the foundations, but not to spend the necessary amount of time to keep improving it. And it's similar to what you will be doing in the US. You know, you don't set up your website and don't do anything anymore. You don't set up your facebook account and and stop interacting or engaging with your audiences. Similar in China, you know. So so the recommendations would be to build your own visible Chinese digital foundations. That includes website and most of the time it includes developing a separate website that we work in China. That would include having this which at official account that I mention. You can describe and see a which out of shore count if you're not familiar with which at, as a facebook page, but on steroids. You know you can do much more than than a facebook page on which ad account, through which at account, and obviously having the set of analytics, which is also very difficult because you know, everything that is in China usually is quite obscure and you don't have a lot of visibility. So very important to be able to for institutions to measure the impact of what they're doing. So, as a second point, I would say that it is under sent to to it is sorry important to understand three phases of the student life cycle and you know the print all went their rollment and pross the graduation, and then map how you can use those digital channels to best engage with those students at a stage of their life cycle, because obviously you're not going to use the same channel, you know, when they are perspective students or when they are actually current students or when they are an alumni, so so. So it is important to understand which channel, which constant, you will be adopting based on their their life cycle stage. Very, very important to understand how Chinese students are feeling. You know where the value in the education they concerns, especially with the pandemic. You know the way hot countries have handled bandmixes is now very important. You might know that China has probably, I think, the only country now in the world that has this covet zero policy still. You know, we used to have it here in a straight up, but we decided to to be much more flexible now, and so all these things...

...are very, very important and once you have your foundations, you understand, you know the key messages that you should be pushing. Then you need to look at how to drive demand and look at the man generations and test your approach. You know which channels, what activities you can you do, knowing that it's impossible to travel to China now, what are the partnerships that you can do locally? What are the digital channels that you should be investing in? And test and look at numbers and then grow your your activities, because thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out of they have any follow up questions? Sure fact, look, Eric, thanks a lot for having me a really enjoyed that their discussion to we actually provide a lot of free resources on Sinoba'Scom, you know, for institution to have them bear their digital president China. You have Webbin, has white pepper's guides, articles and even some research to sabascom would be a great place to start with. And obviously, if anyone wants to Operach to me directly, I'm more than happy to. My email address is very easy. As nicko at Sinoba'Scom, you know, one can shoot me an email at and be happy to redirect you the right the right person within the company awesome, Lego, thanks so much for joining us today. Pleasure. Thanks. Eric. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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