A Study of Chinese Students’ Application to UK Universities in Uncertain Times

From the Perspective of Education Agents





education agents, information asymmetry, international higher education, Chinese international students


This research investigates education agents’ practices with in-service Chinese applicants to UK universities in the context of information asymmetry. COVID-19 serves as a backdrop as an illustrative case of a period of high information uncertainty, which has generated severe challenges for the international higher education sector and on Chinese applicants’ plans to study overseas. This study reports on the findings from in-depth interviews with 16 Chinese agent consultants undertaken in nine cities across China in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic (May 2020). The findings indicate that education agents attempt to mitigate the information asymmetry and emotionally reassure applicants through a four-step information management process. Our contribution generates a new understanding of the role that education agents play in international students’ applications and mobility, voices that are often ignored but essential for international students’ decision-making processes and existing university recruitment services.

Author Biographies

Ying Yang, The University of Manchester

Ying Yang is a doctoral researcher in the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. Her research interests focus on internationalisation of higher education, international students' motivations, mobilities and experiences, as well as international student recruitment.

Sylvie Lomer, The University of Manchester

Dr. Sylvie Lomer is a Senior Lecturer in Policy and Practice in the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. Her research interests focus on international higher education, specifically the policies, pedagogies and recruitment practices relating to international students in the United Kingdom.

Miguel Antonio Lim, The University of Manchester

Dr. Miguel Antonio Lim is a Senior Lecturer in Education and International Development in the Manchester Institute of Education at University of Manchester. His research expertise focuses on internationalisation strategies in higher education and higher education policies, particularly in East and Southeast Asia.

Jenna Mittelmeier , The University of Manchester

Dr. Jenna Mittelmeier is a Lecturer in International Education in the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. Her area of research expertise focuses on international students’ transition experiences and broader aspects of internationalisation in higher education.


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How to Cite

Yang, Y., Lomer, S., Lim, M. A., & Mittelmeier , J. . (2021). A Study of Chinese Students’ Application to UK Universities in Uncertain Times: From the Perspective of Education Agents. Journal of International Students, 12(3), 565–586. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v12i3.3777



Research Articles (English)