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  • Janine Mhlongo

Making A Masterpiece: How To Recruit Art Students in China

A growing number of Chinese students are pursuing fine arts overseas, a marked departure from a student market that’s historically preferred STEM-subjects. Between 2010 and 2015, Chinese enrolment in fine and applied arts programs has more than tripled in America, growing faster than subjects like business, math, engineering and computer science.

Why are Chinese students transitioning from science to sculpture, and how should schools connect with these future creatives?

Art in China

Theatre, film-making, and fashion design aren’t the first subjects that leap to mind when thinking about majors Chinese students choose. But artists were among the first group of Chinese students to study abroad in the 1980s, and many of them returned to work in Shanghai.

Major cities in China are seeing a rapid expansion of art galleries, with Shanghai ranked 3rd globally in total number of art galleries in 2019, behind only New York and Paris, and ahead of London and Rome. were among the first group of Chinese students to study abroad in the 1980s, an of them returning to work in Shanghai. Major cities in China are seeing a rapid expansion of art galleries, and Shanghai ranked 3rd in the world in total number of art galleries in 2019, behind only New York and Paris, and ahead of London and Rome.

While art in China has grown as into a quasi manufacturing industry, the art gallery boom reflects the dynamic culture of the country’s growing middle class, a shift mirrored in the interests of students looking to study overseas.

Art Education in China

Understanding Chinese art students starts with understanding art education in China. China’s National College Entrance Exam, or Gaokao (高考), is China’s only determinant of undergraduate admission - and future success. While many students receive art education outside of class, the GaoKao only includes 4 subjects, and other areas are given less attention by students and schools.

Chinese students hoping to gain entrance into university art programs also sit the yikao (艺考), a practical exam, completing a set of artistic assignments mostly focusing on technique and replication, and scored by judges.

Competition is fierce: leading Chinese arts institutions have posted acceptance rates of less than 2%, leaving many students unable to achieve their dreams domestically and turning their sights abroad. Rising demand for fine arts programming in the Chinese student market results in a real opportunity to attract Chinese art students abroad.

Associated searches for “art schools”, on Baidu, China’s answer to Google. Source

Searches for: “ranking of art school”(排名), “specific field of study” (专业), “admission and enrolment” (招生) shows Chinese student interest and high demand for program and admissions information.

What Chinese Art Students Are Looking For

Many are familiar with the Chinese education system’s propensity towards rote learning of facts and figures, but this extends to the creative arts too.

Fine arts students are looking to break free of that mold, seeking out teaching methods that espouse critical thinking, theory, and personal expression. In lieu of learning by imitation, students want opportunities to apply their talents practically and creatively.

Students are also looking for cultural exposure, the chance to immerse themselves in galleries and theatres, work alongside industry professionals, and apply their learning to take their creativity from palette to practice.

How To: Successfully Recruit in China

Highlight Culture: Does your campus town have an off-off-off Broadway theatre? Famed shoe museum? Be sure to mention campus proximity to arts and culture and faculty connections to industry so students can see the experiences available to immerse themselves in their craft.

Talk About Teaching: How will students be pushed out of their creative comfort zones? Be encouraged to apply their skills outside the studio? Are performance and portfolio opportunities available? How will your faculty encourage critical thinking and theory? If you're not sure, ask your faculty, or better yet, share a video of them sharing their experiences and teaching philosophy.

• Go Beyond Beijing: Read our guide to recruiting in China's Tier II and Tier III cities. There's more to China than Shanghai; learn how to tailor your messaging to connect with art-focused students across China.

• Dive Deep: Learn how to design and diversify your digital recruitment strategy in China, beyond WeChat and Weibo, into China's unique digital sphere.

• Understand Industry Changes: Should your admissions team accept the Duolingo test? What about the new TOEFL test? Not all tests are created equal - or available in China!

Start Here, Start Now - For Free

eduFair gives art schools a free and direct platform to connect with millions of students, with dedicated features to help Chinese students explore art schools and programs:

Multimedia portfolio and audition requirements to help students understand where to start.

Art school search, searchable information about all of your programs, including newer fields like video game design and digital media.

• Partnership Management to help you find China-based admission and application support.

Don't count Chinese students out of your fine arts recruitment. With an understanding of programs, outcomes and specialized admissions requirements, Chinese students on eduFair are poised to succeed on creative campuses across the world. Find them here.



eduFair China is a free online platform dedicated to international education and recruitment. Its' platform connects millions of Chinese students with first-hand information while helping institutions recruit qualified students digitally. eduFair aims to give students a more empowered, holistic approach to international education so that they can succeed during their journey abroad.

Learn more about how eduFair can help you reach students across China.



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