Haohao Guo is the former CFO for Massachusetts International Academy, the first boarding language school designed only for preparing Chinese international students to attend college in the US. After an 11-year run and sending over 2,500 full-time Chinese international students to US universities, MAIA shuttered its doors as a result of the pandemic.
A former international student himself, Guo was determined to remain in the field of global education and switched gears to the study abroad market. He is now the senior vice president of Global Affairs for JNC Study Abroad Platform. JNC offers North American college credit courses on a culturally immersive platform to Chinese students around the world.
“The courses are primarily for Chinese students who are currently attending [university] or who will pursue undergraduate education in North America,” Guo tells The PIE.
“Students take our courses to determine their suitability for full-time study overseas, to frontload some college coursework, or to expedite their graduation time. And some just come to us for the guided peer network,” Guo shares.
Summer is the peak season for JNC Study Abroad with a typical enrolment of 6,000 students. Guo says this is because Chinese international students tend to go back to China in the summer.
“Lack of work opportunities due to visa restrictions and lack of family or emotional support are the main reasons [students return to China during summer]. JNC offers them a platform where they and their peers bond over courses and create relationships,” he explains.
Faculty at JNC partner institutions teach the classes on the JNC platform. “This model allows our courses to be more authentic and more transferrable,” Guo shares. “Meanwhile it allows us to focus our effort on building an eco-system for Chinese international students around the world, he adds.
JNC enrolments have been consistently growing by about 30% annually. Guo believes the secret to this success is trifold.
“Parents love to see their children in classrooms, especially with opportunities to see the faculty in action”
“We have the right product of a combination of course credits and career networking. There is appreciation by parents.
“Parents love to see their children in classrooms, especially with opportunities to see the faculty in action. And we have high student retainment.”
He asserts the importance of networking for Chinese students overseas, and says students are motivated to spread the word about the impact of the JNC program.
Guo says JNC is always interested in expanding its product lines by partnering with new higher education institutions around the world. He notes that this is an opportunity for jobs for faculty, revenue sharing, and potential enrolments due to students transferring in and becoming full-time. JNC also offers college-prep courses for high school seniors.
“While people are waiting for China to reopen and Chinese students to go abroad again, the foundation is ready for foreign education to enter China,” states Guo.
“JNC is one example where we bring North American credit courses into China. Other opportunities such as online degrees and certificate programs for young professionals remain a huge potential.
“There are around 10 million college graduates each year in China with a third going into the job market and a third going to graduate programs in China. So another third is up for grab by foreign institutions.”