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Covid ‘under control’ despite drop in registrations, say Chinese agents

In its fourth annual update, BONARD’s Agent Marker Report, presented in a webinar led by COO Igor Skibickij and China Branch Manager Grace Zhu, research showed that two out of five agents in the country are even optimistic about 2023 .

“The world needs China and China needs the world”

“The world needs China and China needs the world, metaphorically speaking,” Skibickij told The PIE.

“We believe that this year the administration will find a recipe on how to gradually open the borders with reasonable contingencies,” he continued.

“In a way, it’s similar to buying and selling stocks — if they’re going down in value, don’t sell; you buy more

“In China, it is now more affordable to hire staff; There’s less competition, less pressure – now is the time to build your capacity,” he added.

The setup in the country looks at the cities in a tiered system from one to four. Tier 1 cities include Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, while Tier 2-4 cities include Tianjin, Nanjing, and Qingdao.

Across 439 active agencies surveyed, it was found that 97% still actively promote higher education in their product lines in Tier 1 cities – and for the most part promote the UK rather than the US. Short-term programs are funded at only 34% of institutions, and 29% fund K-12 paths.

For Tier 2-4 cities, all interviewed agents were found to support higher education, and 81% also work with K-12 programs. However, all but one have abandoned funding for short-term programmes.

“I am happy to connect with providers in all destinations because I know that sooner or later things will get better.”

Despite the drop in promotions for short-term programs in all cities, Grace Zhu said, “Most agents remain optimistic after the impact of the pandemic.”

“I am happy to engage with providers in all destinations because I know that sooner or later things will get better; We’ve already seen a recovery in the UK and are preparing for it right now,” an agent said when questioned.

For the future, trends show that there is optimism, that the economy is gradually opening up and new projects are taking off.

“We have reason to believe that Xi Jinping will further promote international cooperation and development and accelerate the opening-up of China’s economy,” Skibickij said.

“We believe that to some extent this will also drive the emergence of new fields of study and new study destinations for Chinese students,” he added.

Agents also do well with students in China. The research included a student survey which revealed that they are still the preferred channel for ‘organizing a study abroad experience’. In terms of travel destination, North America is still the preferred choice for university students.

“We believe that opening up will also drive the emergence of new fields of study and new goals”

However, during the webinar it was noted that interest in the US has suffered due to recent events. “There are security concerns and anti-Chinese sentiment in the US, making it harder to persuade Chinese students to pursue studies,” Skibickij said.

However, Australia has “very strong recruitment and momentum” in China.

For K-12 students, the UK and Western Europe are still the top choices, with UK boarding schools being the most ‘competitive’ in terms of destination. “But the US should become attractive again as soon as the situation normalizes and juniors are more encouraged to travel abroad,” Skibickij clarified.

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