Enhancing success and experiences of Chinese students for sustainable enrollment strategies

I co-authored “With poor job prospects for Chinese students, is it still worth investing in a US education?” with Di Hu. The article published in South China Morning Post highlights that institutional focus on recruitment and enrollment expansion must match with the investment in campus services to support their success. Here is an excerpt from the article:

investing in career and job success will help Chinese student recruitment

The number of Chinese students in the US rose from 81,127 in 2007/08 to 304,040 in 2014/15, an increase of 275 per cent in seven years, according to the Institute of International Education.

This skyrocketing growth resulted in a corresponding increase in their estimated financial contributions to the US economy, from US$2 billion in 2007/08 to US$9.5 billion in 2014/15, according to Nafsa: Association of International Educators.

The rapid growth of Chinese students was a boon to US higher education as many institutions were feeling the pressure of budget cuts after the 2008 global financial crisis.

With this unprecedented rise of international students came the challenges of integrating them and satisfying academic, social and career expectations. Many institutions have struggled to adapt.

In public institutions, international students pay two to three times the tuition fees of their American counterparts. Chinese students are the most attractive segment for US colleges and universities as they are more likely to enrol at undergraduate level than the next biggest source country – India – whose students tend to take shorter master’s programmes.

In addition to visa constraints, Chinese students often find themselves underprepared for the fierce competition in the US job market. The barriers to cross-cultural communication and confidence which existed at the college admission stage linger. But the stakes are even higher.

We estimate that, this year, nearly 100,000 Chinese will graduate from US universities. Most want to work in the US at least for a few years before returning home. However, given the job search challenges, many are forced to return before they can gain any work experience. On return, many “sea turtles” question the value of the investment in studying abroad.

Many US institutions are now worried about the effect of China’s economic turbulence on Chinese going to study in America. However, their bigger concern should be the doubts among Chinese families and students about the return on their investment. Institutions must invest more in the success and experiences of Chinese students as a part of their sustainable recruitment and enrollment strategies.

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