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China: video-interview firm predicts boom

An innovative video interview company based in China is expecting “tremendous growth” for 2013-2014 since it has seen strong take-up among prospective international students keen to demonstrate their English language capabilities on film.

"We have data that demonstrates how students with our interviews have a significantly higher rate of acceptance"

InitialView moved into the education domain last year after initially providing video interviews for companies keen to hire Chinese graduates. Its clients are likely to send their video interviews to top US and UK institutions as well as international secondary schools – signalling mounting demand for transparency in the admissions process across all levels of education.

Terry Crawford, co-founder of IntialView, says his service helps educators protect their reputation. “We do one thing: we provide transparency so that admission officers can make better decisions,” he told The PIE News. “Admission officers know how agents assist with most applications from China, but they are unable to determine from paper-based applications alone whether a student has crucial communication skills.”

During its first year, InitialView worked with some 1,400 students and is now recommended by 13 institutions.

At the cost of US$95 for the student, InitialView records a 15-minute interview with them speaking about their favourite subjects or high school experiences and then sends it on to as many institutions as the student wants.

Georgia Tech was the first institution to publicly recommend the company after a pilot project in the 2011-2012 admissions phase.

“Top applicants started asking other universities if they would also accept our interviews”

“We grew faster than expected this year,” said Crawford. “We started with just a few universities recommending our interviews to their applicants and then top applicants started asking other universities if they would also accept our interviews.

“Almost all universities, including Ivy League schools, top state schools and top liberal arts schools confirmed to students that they would accept our interviews.”

The non-profit Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) offers a similar service to universities but includes their own evaluation of the student’s interview, a writing sample and cross-reference the student’s interview score with their TOEFL results for US$319.

“There’s no lack of talented students in China- the only problem is locating them”

Kevin Ferrone, a manager of program development at CIEE told Inside Higher Ed the interviews are “filling a need for additional, concrete, reliable information about applicants from China.”

According to Crawford, the interviews are also beneficial for students. “There’s no lack of talented students in China- the only problem is locating them,” he said. “We have data that demonstrates how students with our interviews have a significantly higher rate of acceptance.”

According to experts, fraud in international higher education amounts to a US$1.5-$2.5 bn industry annually, manifested in falsified transcripts, recommendation letters, exam results and passports.

After its break out year in what Crawford argues is the most difficult market, China, InitialView is now eyeing expansion into other Asian countries and collaboration with educators outside the US. “We are expecting tremendous growth in the year to come.”

 

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3 Responses to China: video-interview firm predicts boom

  1. Having taught English at university level in China, I’m very aware that Chinese students excel at memorizing speeches for assessment purposes if they are already aware of the topic. Unless there is an interactive aspect to these interviews where the student was able to be asked random questions to test understanding and ability to formulate answers, I would be wary of accepting these interviews as an assessment of English Language capability.

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