The report from our previous trip briefly discussed factors influencing the market, in particular the desire to escape from polluted air, and from stressful study.
Escape from polluted air
“Under the Dome”, a documentary analysis about the polluted air and its effects, from independent reporter CHAI Jing, has created a huge stir in Chinese people’s hearts, especially those families who have a school age child. The Chinese government has banned it within China, but it is searchable on YouTube outside China.
It has certainly reinforced parents questioning of their children’s future in that environment.
Escape from stressful study
The growth of middle-class parents who are unhappy with the pressures of the national education system is growing more pronounced. All ages of students aim at their relevant national examinations, Zhongkao or Gaokao.* Although the Chinese government is trying very hard to change, the huge scale and complicated situation means that it will not change quickly.
Students in China have very long days, rising early, sometimes for additional study, starting school at 7.30am, and finishing around 5pm, with homework frequently taking them through until after 11pm. Virtually all schoolwork is memorisation from the blackboard, and from books. It is reported that some students in certain regional cities are even taking medication in their classrooms to boost energy and strengthen memory. Suicides are increasing, with schools commonly fencing off upper balcony areas. Consequently, when students do finish the Gaokao, they are exhausted, but for many of them, also excited about the possibility of studying abroad arranged by their parents.
Up until now, the Chinese market has been mainly aimed at high school leavers and university graduates to encourage them to study in New Zealand at various tertiary levels.
However, most Chinese students will face 3 main barriers when they first come to study in New Zealand or any other Western country:
Unfortunately, the examination system not only ill-prepares them for the independent learning and thinking required in Western education, but their pressured lives mean that they have not had to look after themselves, with everything done for them by their parents or grandparents. Usually, their English is by rote learning, with little opportunity to actually speak and listen, and their passion for education may be exhausted.
Consequently when they do study abroad, many struggle, get very homesick, and find the West difficult and disappointing.
An expected boom of Chinese student number at NZ secondary schools
Given the growth of the factors above, we expect a growing demand for secondary, and even primary schooling, in New Zealand, and our strategy is to bolster that by reinforcing
Feedback from our network of agents, institutes, parents, and our own website and our WeChat account, report a growing interest in “sampling” western education at a young age, perhaps several times, before studying full-time at secondary level, before the pressures of the ‘Gaokao’ start.
We have designed several short term programs which include school study elements and New Zealand culture elements for primary and secondary aged students and families, and have already organised this year two short-term Tour Groups to primary schools. Both groups report definite interest from several parents for return visits, and possible long-term study.
On this trip, David visited the following:
Xi’an (8.5 million population and 30 universities); Along with Allen, our Xi’an Project Manager, David made a presentation to two big Choose New Zealand seminars in Xi’an with more than 200 students attending. We are working with a training centre there to establish a second Choose New Zealand Service Centre.
Shanghai (20 million people) is Davids’ home town, and although the Study Abroad market is extremely competitive, with many agents offering many off-shore destinations, there are also several peripheral areas that have no agents at all, as is also the case in Jiangsu Province (78 million people). We are also working with a training centre in Taizhou to establish our first permanent Choose New Zealand Service Centre. That centre produced the first Tour Group mentioned above.
He also met and conducted seminars with students and parents from there and other cities in Jiangsu, and established more connections with various partners. While in Shanghai, David also attended the Agent Seminars organised by Education New Zealand, and also those in Beijing and Guangzhou.
In addition, Frank, our Director of Brand Strategy, on a personal visit to his hometown of Taiyuan (4 million), was invited to make informal presentations to several groups, including a top University.
As also mentioned in our previous report, relationships take time to build, so results will not be immediate, but in the longer term, we are confident of doing well from agents, personal networks, and from our Choose New Zealand Service Centres.
CHOOSE NEW ZEALAND EDUCATION ALLIANCE
*Zhongkao - This examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all education institutions at the senior high school level, such as common senior high schools, secondary skill schools, vocational high schools, technical high schools. It is usually taken by students in their last year of intermediate school.
*Gaokao - This examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level. It is usually taken by students in their last year of senior high school.