COVID and the recruitment of Chinese international students: Reflections from education agents in China

22nd July 2020 : 14:00 - 15:00

Category: Webinar

Research Group: Higher Education

Speaker: Ying Yang, Manchester Institute of Education. Dr Jenna Mittelmeier, Manchester Institute of Education. Dr Miguel Lim, Manchester Institute of Education. Dr Sylvie Lomer, Manchester Institute of Education

Location: Online

Convener: Simon Marginson

Audience: Public

Seminar Abstract


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.

The research on which the webinar is based can be accessed open access here.


About the Speakers


Ying Yang is a doctoral researcher at the Manchester Institute of Education. Her PhD research is looking at the role of education agents in the marketisation of British postgraduate taught programmes in China’s market. Ying also has worked as an education agent and in higher education in China.

Dr Jenna Mittelmeier is a Lecturer in International Education in the Manchester Institute of Education at The University of Manchester. Her area of research expertise focuses on international students’ transition experiences and broader aspects of internationalisation in higher education.

Dr Miguel Lim is Lecturer in Education, Co-Research Coordinator, and Co-Convenor of the Higher Education Research network at the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. His research interests include internationalisation of higher education, East Asian and transnational higher education, university rankings and performance metrics.

Dr Sylvie Lomer is Lecturer in Policy and Practice and founding co-convener of the Higher Education Research Network HERE@Manchester in the Institute for Education at the University of Manchester. An established researcher in international higher education studies, and critical higher education policy, her book on the topic is Recruiting international students in higher education: Rationales and representations in British policy (Palgrave Macmillan)