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Recruiting Intelligence

Chinese Students, We Are Listening


Your Asian student communities are hurting right now.

Nearly 3,800 hate incidents against AAPI individuals were reported from March 19th, 2020 through February 28th, 2021 according to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center. Nearly a third of Asian Americans report having experienced racial slurs or racist jokes since the beginning of the pandemic, this from a recent Pew Research Center survey. Then the killings in Atlanta last week.

As global leaders responsible for the safety, growth, and development of diverse student populations, what institutions say and do at this moment matters. And hashtags and statements of solidarity are not enough (they never are).

We, as a higher education community, do what we do because we believe in the power of cross-cultural communication and diverse student populations to move the world forward.

As the Intead team, that often means making space for those student populations (and their parents) to speak and be heard. We know how crucial understanding and listening to those thoughts, fears, and needs are to fostering a student-first ethos on your campus. It is this work that allows you to more effectively support all of your student populations, especially those most vulnerable to systems of racism and xenophobia, as well as the disturbing hate and violence that occurs as a result.

In early 2021, with this terrifying climate of rising anti-Asian sentiment in the US and views of the US among global allies reaching its lowest point in nearly two decades of Pew Research polling, we set out to understand how Chinese parents specifically are feeling now about sending their students to American institutions.

In partnership with WholeRen Education, an AIRC-certified agency and a trusted advisor for tens of thousands of Chinese students and families since 2010, we surveyed over 20,000 Chinese parents, the vast majority of whom currently have undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in US institutions, as well as parents of current high school students considering higher education. With a better than 5% response rate, we had more than 1,000 responses to analyze. We then followed up with a focus group to dive a bit deeper into our questions. We conducted all of this work in Chinese.

Some of the findings will likely surprise you. As academic leaders we see the news, we talk to our students, and we hold an entirely justifiable anxiety for our current Chinese students as well as the recruitment path to bring new Chinese students to our campuses.

The information we’ve gathered is incredibly important to your work. But more importantly, it points the way forward for your institution in how to help parents and students feel confident and safe in their decision to study in the US.

Read on to download your free copy of our new market research report, Is There a New Chinese Mindset on US Schools?

From over 1,000 parent responses we know this — despite the state of affairs in the US, a US education is still highly desirable, with 97% of Chinese parents from our research naming the US as their first-choice destination for their student’s higher education.

What does this mean? Despite the vitriol of the “China virus” rhetoric and the physical violence being perpetrated against Asian individuals in the US, Chinese parents are still prioritizing the US as a top destination for study.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—this enduring value of a US education is not an invitation to rest on brand reputation, in fact, quite the opposite. With violence on the rise and Chinese demand still strong, our responsibility to keep our students safe and campus atmosphere supportive is now greater than ever.

For more background:

  • Here is the link to the recent Pew Research Center survey
  • And the data from the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center.

From our latest research, Chinese parents overwhelmingly (77%) said that the US President and government growing more friendly to Chinese students would ease their decision-making process about sending their child to America. And while your institution may have little control over these external political factors, you can control how, where, and when policy changes regarding visas, travel, and employment are communicated to your students. Consistency and clarity are key here. We identify 5 more of these key decision-making factors, as well as the perceived enduring advantages of a US education in the eBook available for free download below:

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The bottom line: those institutions too cautious or flummoxed to engage in recruitment marketing right now (and many are) will suffer the international student enrollment declines the news media love to report. Those engaging these students (and parents) with thoughtful messaging will find an eager audience despite the recent tragedies and increase in anti-Asian incidents. And when it comes to how to deliver that message, the eBook points to a clear messaging strategy favored by the majority of Chinese parents.

And for your current Asian international students and AAPI community who may be hurting right now, create the space to acknowledge that pain and communicate resources such as community forums for discussion, mental health support, extensions on assignments, etc., to let them know you are listening and are doing all you can to help them succeed.

Your message? You’ve put your faith in us to provide an outstanding education. Our institution and community are here to welcome, support, encourage, and protect you — always.

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