March 05, 2007

Beijing is really BIG

I just arrived at the InterContinental hotel in Chongqing after a flight from Beijing. There was a ROEWE on display at Beijing International Airport – thats the Chinese owned and built old Rover 75 with some styling mods and a new badge – Euphemia said she didn’t really like it. Its 1am so everything is pretty quiet, I’ll find out tomorrow what Chongqing is like and report.

Well, the meal on Sunday evening was delicious, a Cantonese style meal at Lei Garden Restaurant Dongcheng District.
Lei Garden (Beijing)
Lei Garden is a chain with outlets in Hong Kong, Guangzhou (Canton) and Singapore. If these outlets are anywhere near as good as the Beijing one then I can recommend them, not cheap perhaps but worth it. Afterwards we took a walk – it was FREEEEEZING. It was FREEEZING again this morning when I took a short walk.

Most important things I’ve learnt about Beijing
  1. Its Big;
  2. No, you’re not reading closely enough, its really big;
  3. No, I mean MASSIVE;
  4. About 80 million people live there;
  5. Don’t try and count the number of high rise building sites
  6. about half the World’s tower cranes live here
  7. the other half are on their way
  8. When its cold, its FREEEZING
  9. When the air is clear you can see the mountains to the North
  10. China only has one Great Wall
  11. It might pis* a Chinese person off if you mention that the UK has two
  12. Did I mention that Beijing is really big?

I learnt yet more about the agency situation in China, are you ready to be informed?

  • Most prospective students wishing to study overseas use an agent who helps them with their application forms, checks out the entry requirement, identifies suitable universities, colleges and schools (in the English speaking World) and organises visas.
  • Agents earn their money by getting a commission from the target universities – this can be between 10 and 20% of the fees. They used to charge the students but severe competition means that students now often get the service for free.
  • Only the top universities don’t use agents (Oxbridge and Ivy League) those that don’t give a commission, suprise, suprise, don’t get many referrals.
  • Guess how much Warwick pays per student (CLUE: anything divided by infinity). Why? ‘cos we are deluded about our worth in the eyes of students and don’t understand their point of view.
  • These agents aren’t small scale operations. The one I visited today occupies two floors of an office block, is stuffed full of people answering phones, teaching English for IELTS, processing applications. The shelves are stacked with prospectusses from hundreds of institutions. They are commercially aware, not patsies and the larger ones have offices in many cities.
  • If you don’t find a way to engage an agent on your behalf, then don’t expect a lot of Chinese students.
  • Most Chinese students aren’t ready or willing to apply direct (on-line) so it is not easy to bypass the agency system. If you think that your on-line applications rate is good, don’t be fooled, there are a lot more students out there that you just ain’t seeing.

*PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL *- Don’t be proud, the incremental cost of each student is minimal compared with the fixed costs of running an academic department (unless you have high lab costs). It is better to pay an agency fee than forego the revenue, unless you are a deluded moron, a greedy central administration, or have some nefarious ulterior motive (work it out).

Finally, did I mention that Beijing is really BIG ?

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Mark Swift

    Great insight into what Beijing is like for a first time? visitor… Have you got any photos of that Rover Wrong Way, I mean ROEWE for a sad petrol head like me??

    07 Mar 2007, 11:06

  2. Neil

    Sorry Mark, I haven’t – I left my camera in Poland at Christmas by mistake. Just like I left my recharger in Chongqing this afternoon … I’m now in Shanghai. There are pictures in the press – have you Google Imaged it yet? I’ll blog in a bit and if I can find one will post an image.
    ps. Yes it was my first time in Beijing. From what I can see of Shanghai so far it has chanegd significantly since my last visit 7 years ago. Blink and a new skyscraper will have been built.

    07 Mar 2007, 14:53

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