Sep 24 2019

Our International Student Recruitment team recently opened a new office in China which provides all of our agents, students and schools in the region with a local contact. Ruifan (International Officer, China), who is based in our new China office, recently visited Royal Holloway for the first time. We caught up with Ruifan and Nathan (International Student Recruitment Manager, China and East Asia), to discover more about Ruifan's trip to the UK and our new Chinese office.

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourselves and your roles within the International Student Recruitment team?

Nathan: I have been at Royal Holloway for coming up to three years and look after student recruitment in the East Asia region. This role differs somewhat from the traditional understanding of student recruitment, as it is largely a client management role focussed around building and maintaining relationships. Until recently I was the only member of staff looking after the region, which accounts for around 55% of international students, so direct student engagement is not a feasible strategy and we need to work with local partners to represent us on our behalf. During my time here I have built this representation up to 16 key partners who are present in over 75 cities, but we are hoping to expand this more in the coming cycle. Now that Ruifan has joined the team, we also look forward to better exploring alternative avenues and emerging markets. 

Ruifan: I joined this June as International Officer in China, along with the opening of our new office there. My key job is to provide our local partners sufficient support and acknowledge for student recruitment, whilst deliver our Royal Holloway brand in China.

2. We understand that a new office has recently opened in China. What is the main purpose of this new office?

Nathan: I first proposed the idea of a new office in 2017 and we’re pleased to finally be operational. The new office is strategically embedded within the headquarters of our largest partner in Mainland China and is primarily charged with being a local contact for all of our agents, students and schools. The impact is considerable, as last year I travelled to the region for a total of 17 weeks, but this year we have a permanent presence. There is still a lot of work to do, with all of our key competitors having had similar offices for a number of years, but as I mentioned earlier, it allows me the opportunity to focus on some of the markets outside of the Mainland, whilst being more strategic about our current operations.

3. How will our Chinese office live alongside our Egham Campus? 

Nathan: We’re in constant contact throughout the week and I regularly travel to the region. Over the past two weeks, Ruifan has been having an induction on campus, meeting with various members of staff throughout the college to learn about our programmes, strategies and marketing guidelines. We haven’t been able to meet with everyone, but Ruifan will be available for online meetings once he returns to China. If anyone would like to know more about the China office, or how we can work together, it’s best to contact me in the first instance: Nathan.whittakerrhul.ac.uk.

4. What is the future of Student Recruitment in China?

Nathan: Since the nineteenth National Congress in 2017, the Chinese government has been reviewing the education landscape in China, setting new challenges for British universities around student recruitment and partnerships. This includes developing China’s domestic higher education provision, reviewing existing partnerships to favour the development of world class universities within China and moving away from traditional subjects like Business and Management to suit the transition to a high-tech economy. The overall aim of this is to be the number one destination for international students by 2049, directly competing with British universities to retain their best candidates and also attracting international students from nearby markets.

5. What have you found most interesting about your visit to Royal Holloway?

Ruifan: Despite the fact that I have seen Royal Holloway in many different pictures and films, exploring it myself is still a pleasant experience. I was astounded by its fine combination of traditional and modern architectures.

6. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway and within the International Student Recruitment team?

Nathan: It’s been a pleasure to be a part of a team with an international perspective. Everyone is in tune with their markets and pays close attention to local politics and market changes, which often leads to interesting conversations. However, we do often go months without seeing each other in person!

7. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Nathan: I enjoy the outdoors and try to get to the mountains as often as possible. Most of my weekends involve some kind of trail running, hiking or climbing project. Other than that I follow the mighty Canaries on their travels around the country!

Ruifan: I enjoy spending my weekends alongside the open water, whether it is fishing, rafting or swimming. My other hobby is modelling, assemble and paint my GUMDAM figures!