AUSTRALIAN universities are signing up to Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo to reach out to potential international students. Andrew Yeung has the story.
Australian universities are tapping into the power of social media to recruit and improve relations with international students from China.
Higher education institutes, including Monash University, Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales, have all set up accounts on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo.The highly popular site boasts more than 300 million registered users – of which 500,000 are based in Australia, and 200,000 from Victoria. But perhaps what’s more attractive to these universities is the fact about 60 per cent of Sina Weibo’s Australian users are Chinese students, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Monash University runs the most popular account on Sina Wibo with over 11,000 followers – that’s more than the number of followers Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales have combined.
But that hasn’t stopped Macquarie University from promoting itself extensively, keeping their followers updated with the latest news and posting photos of the school’s campus.
A spokeswoman for Macquarie University says its Sina Weibo account is run by the university’s Chinese-speaking staff, enabling the university to have a ‘conversation’ with students from China.
“Sina Weibo has enabled us to stay in contact not only with prospective students, but also current Chinese students and alumni back in China,” she says.
“As a university, we were keen to start a conversation with Chinese students, especially those who had questions about our courses, the uni community and life in Australia.
“Due to the limitation of other established social media channels we chose Sina Weibo because of its unique mix between Twitter and Facebook, and because its reach is vastly superior than other social media channels in China.”
Much like Macquarie University, Swinburne’s Sina Weibo account was also set up with help from their China team.
Swinburne International and Development Vice-President Jeffery Smart says the account has been an informational and promotional tool for their current and future students.
“Social media platforms are today part of the marketing mix – but they play a very special and distinctive role,” he said.
“My sense is that students mistrust marketing slogans on their social media sites. We use them as a way of having a conversation with students about our courses and our rankings, our campuses and the student experience.”
Aside from Macquarie and Swinbourne, other universities registered on Sina Weibo include Central Queensland University, Australian National University and Swinburne University.
These universities post mainly about holidays, local Melbourne news and information from China academics.