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Australia is the second preferred study destination for chinese students

March 20, 2017 |   Christine Lee

Sinorbis’s CEO, Nicolas Chu, appeared on Sky News Business show ‘Ticky’ to discuss the latest insights on Chinese international students. 

Drawing on the latest research in our whitepaper The Learning Dragon: Studying with International Chinese Students, Nicolas explored the issues Chinese students consider when choosing an international university or school.

Australia has for the first time overtaken the UK to become the second most preferred overseas study destination searched for by Chinese students. Nicolas mentioned that the 2.8% increase in UK university costs, possibly coupled with uncertainty around Brexit, had favoured Australian universities. In addition, Chinese families rate the safety of their children highest among selection criteria. Australia’s reputation as a relatively safe place for overseas students, combined with our top-rated universities, should be the catalyst for heightened interest from potential Chinese students.

“Australia has become more relevant to Chinese Students… they are looking for quality education, and a good environment”.


Exclusive data from Sogou, one of China’s largest search engines, reveals that the United States retains its lead as the top overseas study destination searched for by Chinese students, enjoying almost double the volume of searches compared to Australia.

In Australia, Chinese students will be looking at the top 10 universities. Research as outlined in our education whitepaper, reveals the five most searched-for universities for Chinese students looking to study in Australia are:

  1. The University of Sydney
  2. The University of Melbourne
  3. The University of New South Wales
  4. Monash University
  5. The University of Queensland

“International education is big business, with Chinese students contributing $5.5 billion dollars to the Australian economy during 2014-2015, funding approximately 35,000 jobs in Australia”.


Online research remains a key platform for students. Chinese social media, education website verticals, and the universities’ own websites hold the key to reaching the Chinese audience. In fact, 77% of Chinese students rely on online channels when researching international education.

The timing of marketing campaigns by Australian institutions is crucial. While students begin planning to study overseas 12 months in advance, the key search season for students and their parents is between April and July, with a peak in June coinciding with ‘Gaokao’, the National Higher Education Entrance Examination. Around Gaokao, prospective students and their parents are paying close attention to topics relating to universities and higher education. This provides Australian universities with a prime window to operate a 3-month campaign around this time, and increase their chances of being seen by both students and their parents as decision makers.

To reach the highest number of Chinese students, Australian universities need to tailor their marketing to the values of the students’ parents, rather than the students themselves. For example, Chinese students may rate the culture of the university and study country highest, whereas the highest-rated concern amongst Chinese parents is the security of their children. Australian universities must have Chinese language websites or landing pages optimised for this market. We’ve seen the effects of these changes at the University of Tasmania, where the intake of Chinese international students rose sharply following the creating of their Chinese-hosted, Mandarin site,” said Mr Chu.

View Nicolas' full interview with Ticky Fullerton on Sky News:


Sinorbis' CEO Nicolas Chu on Sky Business 18th May 2017 from Sinorbis on Vimeo.

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