Universities that host international students face grim COVID-related challenges, given the uncertainty about what they will be able to provide in future and the concurrent uncertainty about international students’ plans to study abroad. In the immediate future northern hemisphere universities need to understand the decision-making processes of students holding offers of places, given the cultural issues and significant financial implications. This research from international education researchers at the University of Manchester focuses specifically on Chinese international students as the largest group of international students.
In China, education agents hold significant influence over prospective international students’ choice of degree programmes. Education agents are organisations or individuals who provide a range of services for potential international students or overseas universities in exchange for a fee. Agents in China often service large numbers of families. In this webinar the researchers will discuss qualitative research conducted with 19 agents based in nine Chinese cities in May 2020, focused on education agents’ practices and their handling of queries from international applicants and offer holders. Our findings demonstrate how education agents are guiding Chinese international students during the COVID-19 crisis and what factors will affect agents’ advice and students’ decisions in the coming academic year. During the webinar we offer eight concrete suggestions for universities, especially universities in the UK, that want to recruit and maintain international students from China.