ONE of China's largest universities is eying the Gold Coast to explore partnership opportunities in the city's rapidly expanding education sector.
Representatives from Tian Fu College of Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) are on the Gold Coast as part of a national tour that includes Brisbane, Sydney and Cairns.
SWUFE, located in Chengdu, is among China's top 10 universities and it has already forged relationships with a number of Australian higher education institutions.
Study Gold Coast, the city's peak education body, says the visit comes on the heels of a successful China social media campaign it launched late last year.
The college representatives are visiting as guests of the Australian Colleges of Further Education (ACFE), which is part of the VETEA brand.
"Tian Fu College is one of the universities Study Gold Coast engaged during the launch of the China to the Gold Coast campaign in November last year," says Study Gold Coast CEO Shannon Willoughby.
"Off the back of this launch they are now meeting with VETEA, a Study Gold Coast member, to explore further partnership opportunities.
"This showcases that due to the work we are undertaking in the Chinese market we now have the ability to showcase our education offering to an audience of 25,000 students in China."
Willoughby says a dedicated China campaign is critical to ensure the Gold Coast can maximise opportunities in one of the education sector's most lucrative international markets.
The Chinese remain the single largest market for international students in Australia, with foreign students worth $1 billion a year to the Gold Coast economy alone.
Study Gold Coast is seizing on the master plan for the city's Health and Knowledge Precinct to promote the Gold Coast as an international education destination.
"The physical infrastructure being developed at the Health and Knowledge Precinct site is assisting us in changing the international perception of the Gold Coast as a location purely for play," says Willoughby.
"Study Gold Coast is playing a vital role in communicating the city's vibrant education sector to the rest of the world which will in-turn encourage researchers and knowledge workers to choose to pursue their careers here.
"Talent attraction to the Health and Knowledge Precinct will be just as important to the success of the site as the physical infrastructure."
As part of its marketing push in China last year, Study Gold Coast ran a competition offering 12 students the opportunity to study in the city as part of a two-week experience.
"It was an opportunity for them to sample the best our education and lifestyle offerings," says Willoughby.
"Due to this campaign we reached an audience of over 46 million Chinese allowing us the opportunity to showcase the city's education sector to the largest market for international students.
"We now have the chance to promote the Gold Coast and grow the city's billion-dollar education sector by attracting more students."
The 12 winners of the 'Gold Coast to China an education experience' campaign range in age from 15 to 22 years old with nine students coming from Chengdu and the remaining three from Wuhan, Zhejiang and Shandong Province.
The students will be visiting the Gold Coast in July and August and their journey will be mapped through Chinese social media channels.
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