Chinese agents predict recruitment bounceback after coronavirus

Recruitment agents say most students will defer enrolment rather than cancel overseas study plans altogether

February 18, 2020
People on subway wearing surgical masks
Source: iStock

A majority of Chinese student recruitment agents have predicted that the coronavirus epidemic will lead to a decline in the number of students studying abroad this year, but most will defer enrolment rather than abandon their overseas studies altogether, according to a survey.

A survey of 100 agencies across the country, carried out by the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association, found that 40 to 60 per cent of Chinese international students were directly affected by the virus in terms of university applications, visa applications and mobility.

Almost two-fifths of those surveyed (39 per cent) cited blocked travel and blocked entry and exit from China as two of the problems experienced by prospective students, while blocked visa applications (38 per cent), incomplete materials due to the cancellation of standardised tests (35 per cent) and incomplete materials due to a delayed school start (28 per cent) were also reported as key issues. Eight per cent of agents said blocked admission was a problem.

When asked about problems for students that are currently enrolled in an international university, 43 per cent cited blocked entry and exit from China, 35 per cent referenced blocked travel in general and 22 per cent highlighted blocked visa applications.

Two-thirds of agencies (66 per cent) predicted that the total number of students studying abroad would decline this year, but a similar share (64 per cent) said they did not think that students would change their overall plan of studying abroad due to the epidemic.

A spokesman for Bossa said that students may defer enrolment to next year but most would not completely abandon their study abroad plans.

Meanwhile, 71 per cent of agencies said most students would not change their destination of study, despite the difficulties. Those students who had switched destination, according to the agents, had originally planned to go to a university in the US, Australia, New Zealand, UK or Singapore.

Around three-quarters of agencies (73 per cent) said the number of student consultations were lower than in previous years, while 83 per cent said the epidemic would affect recruitment and preparation for overseas summer camps.

The survey also revealed that 83 per cent of agencies were working remotely, while 13 per cent had not resumed operations following the coronavirus outbreak.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Chinese agents predict recovery in recruitment after coronavirus

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