Historically, ‘business’ related subjects account for four out of the top five highest demanded Masters programmes that Chinese students opt for in North American & British universities. This can cause real problems for universities, leading them sometimes to close for China applications early, and to focus on increasing diversity with recruitment from other international markets.

Chinese students themselves are supportive of the need for increased diversity. The last thing they want is to arrive in a foreign country to spend a year studying alongside  a majority of their compatriots. But higher education marketing trends can be managed by universities, not simply by restricting the numbers of Chinese students in their business and management schools – but also by marketing other subjects more enthusiastically.

Trends in higher education marketing

Beyond ‘business’, large numbers of Chinese students choose engineering in all its forms, law, education, design, architecture, computer science, mathematics and linguistics. And because of the huge size of the Chinese market, the numbers studying these subjects are still significant – though not as dominant as in business. I remember once watching a play in an Exeter theatre, next to four Chinese women who were studying for a Masters in International Film Business, and were fully intent on taking their newly acquired knowledge and skills back to China to develop their careers.

With my eyes opened, I made sure the next day that Exeter’s .cn website was updated to include programmes that might not attract huge volumes, but would certainly increase diversity – to the benefit of both the students and the university.

So as regards trends in higher education marketing, you can either sit back and accept what happens – or decide you’re going to make an attempt to determine outcomes.

Fatalist or determinist? You decide. Personally, I think it’s can be a lot more fun challenging conventions, zigging when everyone else is zagging.