With such reputation and track record in China, when BI decided that it also wanted to recruit more free-moving, fee-paying students into its programmes through Edvance’s agency network in China, expectations were that it could tackle that challenge as well. But initial results were disappointing. Main reason: Norway’s main claim to fame in China is its tuition free education system. As the only private and fee-charging school in Norway, BI does not fit that profile, making it complex and less attractive for local agents to promote BI in China.
BI needed another strategy. Attention shifted away from establishing a reputation and foothold in the education market-at-large, towards setting up mobility programmes with a limited number of universities and business schools. Of particular interest to BI were specialized universities of finance and economics, of which there are one or more in each of China’s provinces. Most of these are the leading institution in business and economics education in their respective provinces, attracting some of the best students from the province through the Gaokao examinations. At the same time, they often lack the same kind of international exposure or reputation that national top-tier universities have, as a result of their predominantly regional focus.
With the help of Edvance, six institutions were identified as interested in exploring the possibilities for fee-paying outgoing mobility schemes with BI, in locations varying from Shenzhen to Harbin and from Chongqing to Shanghai. Edvance subsequently assisted in setting up mutual delegation visits, supported the exchange of curriculum information and the design of the various pathway programmes, and helped negotiate the various MOU’s and credit-transfer agreements. “The way Edvance organized the identification phase, the visits and the ensuing communication with the potential partner schools was professional and result oriented”, says Feite van Dijk, Special Advisor International Relations at BI.
Edvance also took responsibility for the promotion of the programmes within the partner schools, visiting international days, giving presentations, helping staff and students smoothening out procedures and processing applications. BI has seen a gradual increase in Chinese applications and enrolments as off the second year of implementation of its new partnerships.