Attracting Chinese students : the challenge for top overseas universities

Attracting Chinese students has been a growing target for top overseas universities.
In order to be even more efficient, those universities have developed Education tourism, organizing summer tours to visit their campus and advanced Digital Marketing in China, setting up their Social Media accounts on main China platforms like Wechat or Sina Weibo and having a specified website in Chinese.


Top overseas universities are reporting record numbers of Chinese tourists this summer as more middle-class Chinese “tiger” parents try to expose their children to wider academic horizons.


Education tourism is a booming business in China – its revenue is expected to grow 30 per cent annually, according to state-run Xinhua.


Some 650,000 Chinese went on overseas study trips last year, Beijing Daily reported this month.The figure was an estimated 500,000 two years ago,  according to Shanghai-based in 2015.

The US and Britain attracted most student tourists in summer vacations, in line with the fact that these two countries were the top destinations for Chinese students to study abroad. Other popular countries for study tours included Australia, Canada and Singapore.


A 21-day tour to Boston and New York that included visiting Harvard University and meeting students attending the college, cost around US$7,000 to US$8,000 per person.


One company, Shanghai-based One Smart Education Group, has been organizing study trips since 2006 and has seen the number of its clients grow by at least 70 per cent a year, according to deputy general manager Zachary Liu Zeyang.


This summer, One Smart is sending more than 450 students to visit top universities in Britain and the United States. A three-week trip to Britain – taking in big-name institutions like Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London as well as enrolment talks and cultural field trips – costs 50,000 yuan (US$7,500).


Another strategy followed by top foreign Universities is to increase their Digital Marketing presence in China.


They have developed Social Media Accounts on Wechat and Sina Weibo  (the most popular Social Media platforms in China) and are becoming more aggressive in China Social Media Marketing.


Oxford University, for example, have launched its own Wechat and Sina Weibo [] accounts where they update their Chinese followers about the courses, the life on the campus and some interesting tips to attract potential future students.

Those Universities can go even more sophisticated by optimizing their website for the specific Chinese Search Engines like Baidu SEO.


Some others also developed a dedicated Chinese website , like French Business School KEDGE for example, that has just released a brand new Chinese website this month : , targeted especially at students in China wishing to study in their campus in France or in Shanghai.