December 8, 2023

Sonja Phongsavanh, head of careers and university guidance at Yew Chung International School in Shanghai, said the school is holding an in-person spring university fair this month for the first time in years, with students and parents invited to meet international university representatives.

“University counselors and university admissions representatives are excited to have the opportunity to attend events in person again now that China’s border restrictions have returned to normal,” said Phongsavanh.

Approximately 60 universities from locations including Australia, Canada and Switzerland will be represented at the fair, primarily by staff from that country.

In early March, China announced it would reinstate multiple-entry 10-year business visas. David Weeks, co-founder and COO at Sunrise International, told The PIE that this was good news for universities as it reduced barriers to re-entry into the country for international recruiters, many of whom hold these visas.

Phongsavanh said the announcement came too late for the school’s March fair, but that a “big return” was expected at the October fair.

“It’s even more important for lesser-known schools and low-ranking universities”

Similarly, Nicole Sheng, head of university guidance at Shanghai United International School, said she had not yet seen many recruiters travel to China from overseas, but believed they would likely come in the fall.

Both Sheng and Phongsavanh emphasized the importance of face-to-face interactions for Chinese families.

“Parents and students are tired of university virtual events,” Sheng said, adding that they would like to talk to admissions officers in person. “It’s even more important for lesser-known schools [and] junior colleges. I have noticed that parents and students are researching more often [and] consider these units if they see an admissions representative face to face.”

“Students and parents want to know they are getting the right information directly from the university,” Phongsavanh said. “While online meetings can be more flexible and convenient, parents and college counselors are looking for more opportunities to connect and engage face-to-face.”

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