How Education Institute Recruit International Chinese Students To Study Abroad

  • Jul 20, 2018
  • Comments 145

graduation hats university

In the last century, developments in the oil sector have once led to a dominanting occupancy of international Iran student in the United States. Later in early 21st century, a surge of Indian students has entered U.S. as international student specializing in business and sciences. Now, nearly one-third of the international students are from China.


According to statistics, between 2016 to 2017, there is a total of 350,755 Chinese international students in the states, making up for 32.5% of the students, followed by 17.3% Indian students and 5.4% Korean students.


In 2017, the total amount of students studying abroad from China have surpassed 600,000 people, increased by 11.74% being the world’s top source for international students.



Why Are Chinese Students Popular in Foreign Education Institutes?

Income generation

Education abroad has varying tuition fees for domestic and international students, domestic tuition fees are lower than international tuition fees by a large margin. Chinese students studying abroad nearly pay double the amount for tuition in comparison to domestic students.


But with the expansion of middle-class families in China, tuition fees and expenses are no longer the drawback to study abroad. Furthermore, after the financial crisis in 2008, governments have reduced the amount of funding for public universities. Universities that are unable to provide tuition fees discounted to specific groups, often unable to attract enough students, leading educational institutes to target students in China.

flag office us china

As one of the articles in “The Atlantic” have noted, over 60% of the Chinese international student is self-funded, subsiding for the loss of domestic students. There are also other education institutes charging additional fees from domestic students to make up for the loss, such as Purdue University.


Increasing Numbers

The leading university institutes will typically consider several aspects to generate higher numbers for domestic student and an small portion for international students.


With the decreasing numbers of domestic students, universities hope to gain more international students to subside for the decreasing numbers of domestic students.


For instance, University of Ottawa have peaked with 1350 international students in 2017 since establishment. One of the goals of University of Ottawa is to double the amount of international post-graduates, and increasing the total amount of undergraduate by 50%, until international students can be accounted for 9% of the total student population. Thankfully, the Chinese population can assist in achieving their goals.

lab work research chinese

Japan also have a similar demand but due to its’ low birthrate. According to the data published by Ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology (MEXT), although the total amount of graduate enrolment peaked at 2010, numbers have regressed consecutively for past five years.


In order to maintain research activities, such as daily experimental data input, website maintenance, and laboratory care, universities from Japan also need manpower from research work. Fortunately, Chinese international students striving to receive higher education is able to converge with the universities in Japan. In 2016, University of Tokyo attained 3300 enrolments, including undergraduates and researchers from foreign countries, with 45%  enrolments from China. Additionally, in comparison to undergraduates, a large amount of the Chinese enrolments are post-graduates.


Recruiting Elite Students

Recruitment for sciences and engineering on a post-graduate level is vital. Take the United States for an example, the country recruits experts from all around the world, with interest of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) specialization and students already in this field of study. Often, these fields are also favoured by Chinese students because it can increase the success for immigration.

field of study students international

In 2017, the president of the United States, Trump, have signed a new memo pushing for 2 billion USD in funding to support the STEM education. Amazon, Facebook and other well-known companies have also agreed to sponsor STEM education. And the increase funding led to lower requirements to obtain scholarships for post-graduates and doctoral students in STEM studies.


How To Recruit Students From China

Online applications

Leading universities in foreign countries often require application and evaluation for Chinese international students to successfully enrol.


For example, an student wanting to study in Japan must submit an application to an institute, the institute will evaluate the application based on the student and other documents, then selecting the best suited applicant for enrolment.


The rapid development of internet has also allowed universities to encourage students to apply online, while applying online will also simplify and reduce the amount resources needed for both candidate and institutes.


Every application system is different all over the world, application system for universities includes CA (Common Application), which has over 40 years of experience, Civil aviation authority of Singapore (CAAS). There are also  regional network application system such as, UC for California, Applytexas for Texas, applySUNY for States Universities of New York. There are also independent institution application system such as, University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown University, University of Georgia, University of Pittsburgh and more.



Some universities and Chinese universities will collaborate for undergo joint collaborations to expand the numbers. There are currently two ways for joint collaborations for institutes, joint programs, such as the research centre for Chinese and American studies joint by The Johns Hopkins University and Nanjing University, and joint institutes, such as China Europe International Business School established by municipal government of Shanghai and European Union.

chinese students international picture

As of 2016, Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China announced a total of 66 joint institutes and 894 joint programs, with mechanic, computer science, business and finance being the favoured specializations.


To expand recruiting channels and attract Chinese universities students, some universities will also initiate an short term joint program. Such as the Green Pass program by University of Toronto Scarborough campus, geared to attract Chinese universities students to undergo English training before starting their purse in post-secondary.


Study Abroad Service Agency

Commissioned Recruitments

To reduce and avoid additional expenses in the early stages of recruitment, foreign institution will partner with study abroad agencies in China. Both parties will sign an contract agreeing to a percentage of commission for each successful student, typically a portion extracted from the tuition of the students of the first year. This percentage may vary depending on the ranking of the school, contract and source of students, ranging from 10% – 40%.


Bloomberg news once reported that State University of New York once contracted with five agencies, agreeing to give 10% commission for each successful student from China from their first year’s tuition.


However, not all universities will adopt this strategy for recruitment. Majority of universities in Europe and the top 100 universities in United states do not have tuition commission, and this system is mostly adopted in the UK excluding Cambridge Oxford and other well-known institutions, Australia, New Zealand, and other English countries because education sector in these countries are much more developed, therefore legally permitted.


Aside from the commissions from school, agencies will also charge a service fees from student, benefiting from both parties. Service fees for institutions in Australia charge approximately 10,000 RMB, England is 12,000 RMB. The fees are standardized and transparent with little to no difference from agency to agency. However, institutions in U.S and Canada will charge much higher ranging from 40,000 RMB to 60,000 RMB or possibly up to 100,000 RMB. And fees will vary from agency to agency for different institutions in United States, causing an favoured recommendation to students in China from the agencies.


Setup Office in China

In the past several years, using the top 20 universities and Ivy league as an representative, the U.S. have begun recruiting potential students from all around the world. In China, universities have used the resources of Embassy and admission offices in China begun to submerge into the Chinese students increasing reputations influences. Take University of Cambridge as an example, Chinese high school students can directly apply for undergraduate enrollment from the institution or apply for enrollment through an authorized centre called Ameson Foundation. The purpose of partnering with the foundation is to find the best institutions in all regions to potentially partner with as the preliminary testing center to find potential students.

Offline activities

In the era of internet, foreign universities also actively promote in the abroad studies industry. To attract for more Chinese international students, some leading universities during the registration period for programs will take initiative in contacting agencies, hosting a variety of recruitment seminars, international education forums, one to one in-person interviews to find potential students. Some interviewers from the universities may even arrive at the event for immediate decision.


Between 2015 to 2017, several middle school institutes from England with residency option arrived in China to host a recruitment campaign in person, allowing students to receive one-on-one interviews.


How To Attract Outstanding Candidates in China

“Gaokao” Examinatioin Results

In the Chinese culture, the “Gaokao”, which is the final examination from secondary education, is the deciding factor for student’s life, which has been controversial for student recruitments.

middle school recruitment event in china

In the perspectives of some foreign universities, final examination is fair and credible to obtain whether if students is studious and capable of continuous learning over long period of time while maintaining these knowledge.


Thus, some universities have begun to consider the value of final examination results to contest for more Chinese students. Such University of San Francisco is no longer requiring applicant to submit TOEFL, SAT and IELTS results, but the final examination results must be surpassing the required admission score. Australia being one of the first country to recognize gaokao examination scores, have the group of eight, excluding university of Melbourne, and 30 other universities that recognizes gaokao examination results.

university of san Francisco gaokao result requirement

However, foreign universities typically do not recognize gaokao examination results as the only acceptance factor, but as one of them to undergo an comprehensive assessment for the students.


Scholarships And Financial Assistance

To be able to recruit more international students from China, some countries begin to improve the financial factor. For instance, Japan, as one of the few countries to provide scholarships self-funded international students. In 2014, the government of Japan launched the “Top global university” project with one to four billion yen fund for 37 universities every year. This signifies that international students in Japan can acquire 30% off for tuition, residency and living expenses.


In comparison to many western countries with employment restrictions on international students during the period of studies, international students in Japan are permitted for employment up to 28 hours without affecting studies.


Due to the close economic relationship between China and Japan, employment rate is quite optimistic for international students, in China or Japan.


Which group of Chinese international students are more popular?

Elite Student

Previously, one of the reasons to study abroad for students in China is due to the lack in performance failing to enter the top-tier universities. However, the elite students are now sacrificing continuous education domestically to study abroad receiving advanced and higher quality education with the top-tier universities in the world.


The standard TOEFL score for admission to universities in U.S. is 80 and above, but reality is that Chinese international students must reach 100 and above on TOEFL to compete for enrollment. In terms of experiences, previous volunteers and social experiences are less valuable to application, thus Chinese applicants must find distinctive personal experiences, backgrounds such as expertise, family backgrounds and such.


Through rounds of competition and assessments, international students enrolled from China are majority those who have a good family background, exceptional resume and outstanding school performance.


Academic Integrity

Although the numbers of Chinese international students are accelerating, not every single one of the students meet the requirements for universities. According to statistics, since the start of 2013, there is a total of 8000 students expelled or dropped out, out of 270,000 Chinese international students.

international student graduation picture

Despite the seemingly small number in comparison to the total amount, it is able to clearly reflect the potential problem behind the increasing numbers. Some applicants during the process may dishonest methods, bribe, or fake an exceptional resume and biography from the intermediary. There are also some students who fear of rejection from the universities that proceed to cheat during tests, plagiarism, and other dishonest academic activities, leading to an academic crisis for international students.



Whether the purpose for money or exceptional students, China have become the target for western universities. Due to the financial state, some universities have lower academic requirement for Chinese student compared to domestic students. Under that circumstance, partnering with Chinese intermediary agencies for resources or expansion of oversea education is crucial for these institutes.


In long-terms, quality of students is far more beneficial than short-term profits because merely increasing numbers of international students with lower requirements cannot guarantee their success. While, risking the reputation and quality of the institute and country.

About the Author

Betty Yang

Betty Yang

No Topics Found...

Keep yourself on top of what's happening in China

Studies, guides, news and other digest of China delivered right to your inbox.

No Charge. Unsubscribe anytime.

Start your journey to China today.