Opportunities for Canadian Educational Institutions in China

Opportunities for Canadian Educational Institutions in China

November 12, 2019 0 By Kody Olson


Queens set up the Queens-China Office about
8 years ago, so that’s the starting point for Queens to have a strategy in China. For the past 8 years we’ve been developing
relations with mostly universities. As you know, a university can do a lot in
China. There are a few things I would like to mention
such as student recruitment, research collaboration, and other degree or non-degree academic programs. We’ve been developing quite good relations
mostly in Shanghai and Beijing with some top-tier Chinese universities for different kinds of
programs. I think education is a very special industry,
if you could call it that. It’s pretty stable. I mean the Chinese market for overseas education
is pretty stable and, actually, we’re seeing increasing needs in this country. Many more Chinese families want to send their
kids overseas for degree, non-degree, or just for experience, so Canada has become a favorable
country for them to choose. That’s what I see. Also, universities are taking internationalization
as one of their developmental strategies. So, in university relations, I think there
are chances for Canadians to work on, for example, academic programs, research collaboration
and other business that a university can do. For education institutions, in my opinion
as a university representative, I see it from a few different aspects. Certainly, student recruitment for any undergraduates,
graduates, and even at the PhD level, there is a big need here. Actually, my focus is not on student recruitment,
but on academic programs, working with universities and research collaboration. For example, we have built a platform where
top universities in Shanghai like Fudan and Tongji University, for Sino-Canada Center
for Environment and Sustainable Development. That actually allows us to work with these
top universities, scholars from the universities, students from the universities and issues
related to environmental sustainable development where there is a big and long-term need. So, we are using that kind of platform to
develop summer schools and institutes, student exchange, and even degree programs. For research collaboration, the opportunities
are even greater for Canadian education institutions. China, in almost every aspect of scientific
research, is a big lab. Science, engineering, even social issues…I
think Canadian scientists and scholars have to pay more attention to this place. First, for the recent questions, simply because
the size of the country and the growth stage at the moment. So, we’ve created all kinds of scientific
questions for people to do research on. Secondly, I always try to tell my professors
at Queens University this is a place where we do provide sufficient research funding
for any research program if you can work with top universities and scholars. So, these I think are newer opportunities,
because the Chinese government has put up billions of dollars for research. Canadians started coming to China, compared
to other major English-speaking countries, we are latecomers to this marketplace. Secondly, in terms of the number of education
institutions, we cannot compete with the United States of America, our big neighbor, and also
Great Britain. Certainly, we also have others like Australia
and New Zealand. These are the competitors for Canadians. I think we have some collective efforts to
promote Canadian education as a whole. And I think our name is getting better-known
in the Chinese marketplace, but still, we have not reached, in my calculation, the kind
of market share that our capacity allows us to reach. And we still have potential to work towards
that. So, my suggestion, and that’s what I’ve
been trying to do for Queen’s University here, is to identify the right schools, the
right programs to work with. We cannot compete on quantity with other international
institutions. But, if we continue with quality programs
that can understand what they need, if we can better match that, we have a chance. One thing I want to mention that can relate
policymakers, business people and academics together… for Canadians we need to work
together even though each section can work on its own on different issues. For Queens, we’ve been working with business
and policy makers. For example, in Shanghai we have a co-lab
with Tongji University’s environmental science and engineering to monitor Yangtze River water
pollution and to provide ecologically-friendly solutions to the problem. For that, we have to work with government
people here, our local office, and the local Shanghai government like the Academy of Environmental
Science and also some environmental technology related businesses from Toronto, Canada. So, if we can work together, I think it’s
mutually beneficial. So, businesses can come to China and, using
the university’s relations and connections, connect with local businesses to work together
on issues that becomes more and more important to the sustainable development of the country. One thing I would like to suggest, especially
for those newer businesses coming to China, is to try and work with our local offices:
our Embassy, our Consulate General, and trade offices. For example, I’ve had pretty nice support
from our Embassy and our Consulate in Shanghai on a few initiatives working with Fudan and
Tongji University. We setup the Center for Environmentally Sustainable
Development. For that one we have some funding support
from our Embassy and we organized a high-profile Sino-Canada venture forum. That’s one of the areas where Canadians
have expertise that they can offer to the Chinese and where there is a great need in
the Chinese market. Also, I’ve worked with our local offices
here to setup a Canadian public policy center at Fudan University where we started a Canadian
studies lecture series to bring our scholars and also government officials to talk to Fudan
students about different issues related to Sino-Canada relations where Canadians are
taking a stand. This helps me make Queens a success. Certainly, I would like to work more closely
with our local office on this. I would also like to suggest that, based on
my educational experience, even though it’s a different kind of business industry, I think
we have to brand our Canadian products and services more carefully and more with a long-term
vision. The Chinese market, at the moment, has some
problems. One of these is the issue of trust. Consumers hardly trust any companies. They have very suspicious eyes because of
the bad experiences in the marketplace. I think everybody knows something about that. But, if you want to come here and stay for
the long-term, I strongly suggest quality products and service. China is so large, its population size, as
you know, is the largest in the world, and China is geographically very diverse. Actually, tastes and preferences differ. You have different audiences here that are
ready. If you can convince them that you are good,
you will have that part of the market to develop your business here. So, for example, in my field of work, I talk
to students, parents, university counselors…some parents may enjoy staying four years in a
humongous metropolitan area. In Canada, this would be Toronto, Montreal
and Vancouver—cities like that. But some parents do enjoy sending their son
or daughter to a small place like where I’m from, Kingston, where there is a mid-sized
good university, a quieter environment, and less international student percentage. So, the preferences and tastes are really
diverse here. That means that any type of business, university
or college…if you can make yourself unique and build on your own strengths, you always
have a chance here.