23 March 2023 at 10:30 am

Rebuilding New Zealand education’s visibility in China

ENZ’s Marketing and Communications Manager – Greater China, Lillian Zhang, shares key insights for education providers looking to promote their offering in China.

Image UC
Lillian meeting University of Canterbury (UC) representatives in Christchurch. From left: Tracy Zhai (UC), Andy Walker (ENZ) Elizabeth Zou (UC) Lillian Zhang (ENZ), Graham Wise (UC), Mengping Cheng (UC) and a UC student

Last month, Lillian spent three weeks in New Zealand in what was her first visit to the country as part of her role at Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao.

The two-pronged purpose of her trip was to provide refreshed marketing insights to education providers in New Zealand and hear from providers on their expectations and the challenges they face when marketing their offering in China.

Here are Lillian’s takeaways from her visits and interactions in New Zealand –

Need for storytelling that better highlights New Zealand education’s points of difference

  1. Engaging with education providers and visiting campuses highlighted to me several points of difference for New Zealand education, particularly how it is innovative, how it develops work-ready graduates, as well as how international students are welcomed and valued in New Zealand. Seeing these points of difference in real time made me realise how underrated the New Zealand education story is overseas, and the need to tell that story better. We need to focus on telling a New Zealand education story that is authentic and has concrete examples. A more visual storytelling format would be ideal to deliver the story.
    • Tip: Demonstrate the teaching and student engagement practices your institution delivers using visuals (images or videos).
    • Example: Take photos/videos in the lab, with robotics machines, with the 3D printer, the hands-on experience and student engagement (student hub), self-learning and learning from their peers.

Visit to Middleton Grange Intermediate School to understand the differences between New Zealand and Chinese classrooms

Demonstrate outcomes of education programmes via successful alumni stories to promote offering

  1. Chinese parents and students are very outcome driven. Institution or programme rankings remain the key consideration, but other indicators and outcomes are becoming increasingly important, including employability, international recognition, and a life-changing experience.

Demonstrating the outcome of an education programme by leveraging successful student or alumni stories and testimonials can be a critical in activating ‘word-of-mouth’ promotion that influences the decision-making of prospective students and parents.

  • Tip: Highlight successes or outcomes for students through stories. Degree + good experience = happy alumni story. Parents and students want to know if a qualification from a New Zealand institution will be recognised in China, the world or if it could be a pathway to further study.
  • Example: A Chinese student studied a business degree with a New Zealand tertiary provider and then landed a job at a Fortune 500 company or became an industry leader. Or if a Chinese student studied virtual art in a New Zealand PTE, got a job in Weta Digital, which has worked on recent Chinese blockbuster films. We have seen Chinese media are very interested in interviewing and profiling such students in their publications.

Consider digital content in local language for marketing impact

  1. Research indicates that more Chinese students do their own research online and make their own decisions when choosing an overseas study destination and institution. So having a digital presence on China’s digital platforms is critical. Digital content in local languages also goes a long way in building brand awareness. If resources allow, exploring multiple channels and interacting with your audience in local languages will help you to gain a major advantage in optimising brand awareness and driving results in student recruitment.
    • Tip: Host Chinese language and China specific channels such as an official WeChat account. We understand it isn’t easy to set one up. If you are unable to set up a WeChat account for any reason or don’t have Chinese-speaking staff, having a Chinese language website is the next best option. Having crucial information online in Chinese helps promote the institution as trustworthy. Parents and students will use the Chinese language website to confirm information, even if they rely heavily on agents or school counsellors.
    • Example: ENZ has been working to optimise our digital presence in China, including with our Chinese language website: studywithnewzealand.cn. We recently revamped the storefront of SWNZ.cn to bolster its localisation, ensuring that from a Chinese user point of view, we can keep them interested and engaged in considering a New Zealand education provider. To ensure our digital presence continues to be fit for purpose, we undertake regular work to update and troubleshoot our platform and content.


ENZ’s Lillian Zhang presents China Marketing Insights and Strategies session to members of Study Dunedin on 24 February

With China fully re-opening to the world in January, the tempo of in-person events in the country is at pace already.

ENZ’s Greater China team is looking forward to supporting New Zealand providers visiting the country for agent seminars in Guangzhou and Beijing in May and other events later in the year.

If you have any enquiries related to marketing in China, please contact: china@enz.govt.nz 

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