As the study abroad market gradually recovers, education enterprises are also accelerating their efforts to expand their presence in the field of overseas study.
On May 4th, Beijing Business Daily reporters found that not only did Gaotu Study open a flagship store in Zhongguancun in April this year, but multiple enterprises including Century Mind, New Oriental, and others have also released new products such as overseas study tours and research programs, targeting the demands of parents and students during the summer vacation period.
Resumed Study Abroad Plans
“Originally, I planned to go last year, but at that time, international travel was quite complicated, and the expenses for airfare and accommodation were also high. Considering all these factors, I decided to postpone it for a year,” said Kong Ge, who is scheduled to study abroad in the United Kingdom in August this year, in an interview with Beijing Business Daily. Despite delaying his plans to study abroad for a year, Kong Ge has gained more preparation time and opportunities for language exams. “Overall, it’s still worth it. I had more time to spend with my family in China, and I also received a better offer than last year’s application season.”
Kong Ge’s situation is not an isolated case. According to data from a survey conducted by New Oriental Education, 25.3% of international students believe that this year’s reduced travel restrictions and decreased transportation costs allow them to start their delayed study abroad plans as soon as possible. Additionally, nearly 50% of prospective international students stated that their study abroad plans have not been affected by the pandemic and have been progressing normally. Overall, it is expected that over 80% of students will initiate or restart their study abroad plans this year.
Not only are students eager to pursue their study abroad dreams, but various international education exhibitions have also gradually resumed offline. In April this year, the 28th China International Education Expo was held offline, attracting 25,000 on-site visitors in a single day at the Beijing venue, with an additional 502,000 online exhibition attendees. As the study abroad market regains momentum, an increasing number of parents, students, and relevant study abroad institutions are focusing their energy on planning for international education opportunities.
Resurgence in Study Abroad Business
The recovery of the study abroad market can also be observed from the financial reports of some publicly listed companies, in addition to education exhibitions. According to New Oriental’s latest financial report, their overseas test preparation business and study abroad consulting business saw growth of approximately 13% and 5% respectively during the three-month period ending on February 28, 2023.
Gaotu, on the other hand, achieved a quarter-on-quarter increase in revenue from its college and adult education business in the fourth quarter of 2022. Currently, Gaotu’s college and adult education business includes fields such as postgraduate entrance exams, public sector exams, study abroad exams and applications, and medical exams. Liu Wenyong, the General Manager of Gaotu’s postgraduate entrance exam division, stated in an interview that according to the financial reports disclosed by various companies, study abroad and study-related exam training have shown a growth trend since the end of last year. “Many companies focusing on study abroad as their main business have seen good growth in their operations.”
“Both study abroad and postgraduate entrance exams have seen an increase in the number of applicants in the past two years.” According to Liu Wenyong, he believes that the number of study abroad and postgraduate entrance exam candidates will continue to grow in the coming years. “College students or young people still place their hopes of finding good jobs on improving their educational qualifications.”
The increasing number of students studying abroad and the relaxation of immigration policies have attracted the attention of more and more education enterprises. In April this year, Gaotu Study officially opened its flagship store in Zhongguancun. Chen Xiangdong, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Gaotu, expressed his optimism about the study abroad industry during the opening ceremony and mentioned that Gaotu Study has been actively recruiting talented professionals from the industry. According to information from a certain recruitment platform, Gaotu is currently hiring IELTS tutors, study abroad consultants, and other positions, with salaries ranging from 8,000 RMB/month to 24,000 RMB/month, which is on par with the industry average.
Early Rebound of Summer Research and Study Abroad Programs
Although the study abroad application cycle is relatively long and market recovery takes time, overseas study programs that serve as pre-enhancement projects for studying abroad have taken the lead in rebounding. Beijing Business Daily’s investigation revealed that many parents have already begun planning for their children to participate in overseas study programs during this year’s summer vacation. Xu Le, a resident of Beijing, is currently considering summer research and study programs in the UK and France. “In the past two years, I enrolled my child in online research programs. This year, since the opportunity to go abroad has arisen, I still hope to let my child experience a two-week overseas summer school program, which will be beneficial for improving their English proficiency and background,” Xu Le told Beijing Business Daily.
Xu Le explained that the selection of summer study abroad programs for her child is primarily driven by considerations for the child’s future educational plans. “As a former international student who studied in the UK, my current plan for my child is to study in European countries. By participating in pre-enhancement study abroad programs, I want my child to experience student life abroad in advance and gain experience for preparing application materials in the future.” Xu Le’s perspective represents the sentiments of many parents.
“From what I’ve observed around me, outbound research and study programs for this year are very popular,” Xu Le revealed. Many of her son’s classmates have already enrolled or are preparing to enroll in overseas research programs during the summer vacation. “If the research program is of good quality, my budget is around 40,000 RMB per week.” Xu Le mentioned that in the past two years, she had inquired about the fees for domestic research programs, and many high-end research programs also cost over 30,000 RMB. “In comparison, spending this amount of money to participate in overseas programs is more worthwhile than joining domestic study tours.”
Parents’ enthusiasm for overseas study tours is on the rise, and educational institutions are actively launching related programs. According to observations by Beijing Business Daily, several education institutions, including Century Mind Education and New Oriental Education, have successively released summer research and study tour itineraries. Century Mind Education has opened parent-child camps in Bali, Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand, and other destinations, with prices ranging from 7,800 RMB to 46,500 RMB. New Oriental International Study Tours has also opened summer research programs such as the Canada Appleby College High School Summer School and the United Nations (Geneva) Youth Talent Development and Exchange Program, with prices ranging from 20,000 RMB to 50,000 RMB.
“Even if we can’t enroll in a research program this year, I plan to take my child on a family trip abroad,” said Xu Le. After three years of silence, parents’ enthusiasm for overseas research and travel may be unleashed during this summer vacation.