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Case study: Warwick wins global Chinese student employability award

Since 2015, a small team, led by Esther de Perlaky in Careers & Skills, have delivered on a sector-leading employability strategy to support Warwick students and graduates into graduate roles and internships in China. In recognition of this work in China, the team was recently awarded the Global University Careers Services Best Practice Award by China’s leading student returnee organisation:

“Your career service team has a strong sense of missions to students' employment and always proactively engages in employment strategies for your students. The activeness of your work with Chinese enterprises is recognized as achieving a significant effect on your students' employment in China.

Your career service team takes the initiative, actively seeking cooperation with Chinese enterprises, and successfully supports your graduates with their employment.

As a result of the efforts of your International team in Student Opportunity, your university has the world's leading professionalism, strong discipline and excellent reputation in the recruitment industry in China. Your diligence and commitment have certainly paid off. Congratulations on your remarkable achievement.”

Department(s) / colleagues involved

Student Careers & Skills – Employer Connect, International team – Esther de Perlaky (team lead), Tori Reynolds, Christine Fenton

Our aim was to …

Winning this award is recognition of the positive outcomes and successes of our sector and world-leading international employability strategy which aims to support the employment opportunities of Warwick students seeking internships and graduate roles in China.

What we did …

Over the past three years, we have focused on creating and delivering an employability strategy to support Warwick students seeking graduate internship and employment opportunities in China.

Our initiatives have been sector-leading in the UK, and beyond, and have included:

  • Proactive employer liaison with key Chinese graduate employers to develop and build relationships, to understand their graduate recruitment needs and help to fulfil these
  • Delivery of new initiatives for Warwick students to engage with Chinese organisations including on-campus presentations, bilingual resources and the piloting and establishment of a successful programme of virtual Chinese employer presentations
  • Leading on initiating new UK HE collaborations to hold joint Chinese careers fairs – including a now established and highly regarded joint UK University Chinese careers fair, organised by Warwick, in partnership with the University of Manchester and attended by students from Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Lancaster, Aston and Liverpool. This year over 25 employers from China attended and over 2,000 students from Warwick and the seven partner universities
  • In March 2018, Warwick led on a UK HE collaboration to hold our first China careers fair in Shanghai, in partnership with Birmingham and Nottingham. The fair was attended by over 800 students and over 60 employers including Apple, Bloomberg, Paypal and Tesla. The fair has already resulted in a significant number of Warwick hires and we are actively following up with employers for outcomes and further developments for this fair
  • We have also pioneered the use of the Chinese social media platform, WeChat, to produce a series of online career preparation workshops to help prepare Chinese students before they study at Warwick. We were successful in gaining WIHEA funding for part of this project and ran this programme for the first time in September 2017. We plan to run this series again for new incoming Chinese students throughout September 2018
  • Over the past two years, we have been successful in gaining over £100,000 of UK government funding to carry out UK HE-wide Chinese student employability projects. The first project of which was an indepth UK HE-wide research project with UK-educated Chinese students and alumni entitled: 'Standing out and fitting in':
  • Using the findings from this research, we went on to be successful in gaining additional UK government Prosperity Funding to create and deliver two open-source resource online resources to a) support Chinese students with their career planning and b) support entrepreneurship and start-up initiatives. This project involved working closely with a number of Chinese universities, including Peking, Tsingua, Fudan and Shanghai Joao Tong, and the Chinese Ministry of Education. The project culminated in launch events in the UK and China in 2017. Linked to the resources: and
  • We also work closely with alumni in China to encourage their support of our students, through employment connections with their own employers or in their own businesses
  • Our success has also been as a result of working closely with academic departments to understand their needs and develop specific initiatives to support their students seeking opportunities in China


The outcome has been …

  • Increased connections with a wide and broad range of Chinese recruiting employers for our students and graduates
  • Increased career preparation support and materials for our Warwick students seeking roles in China, leading to improved employability outcomes
  • Deeper and broader range of internship and graduate roles secured by Warwick students in China
  • Increased employability outcomes for our students
  • Positioning of Warwick as a Higher Education sector-leader in the area of international employability
  • Significant contribution to the positioning of Warwick to help attract a diverse range of top Chinese students to study at Warwick

This supports the Education Strategy by …

2.3.2 Student learning beyond the boundaries of nation and culture:

“We will: Offer all of our students high quality and meaningful international and intercultural learning opportunities that broaden global perspectives and outlook. We will achieve this by increasing student international mobility opportunities”

3.5.3 Work Experience

“We will: Maximise the availability and accessibility of all modes of work experience for every student during their studies. We will achieve this by creating a range of work experience opportunities - including internships, placements, consultancy, volunteering and part time work - available to all students regardless of their study and personal circumstances”

Overall, our international employability strategy has ensured that employability is integral to the Warwick education and student experience.

The response of students / staff has been …

Chris Hughes, University of Warwick Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) said;

"We are delighted to receive this award which is testament to the hard work of Warwick’s International Student Opportunity team. We recognise the challenges faced by our international students when they return home and we are committed to supporting them as they make the transition into the workplace.”

Nick Lesser, an alumnus and Head of Graduate Talent Asia for global market research company, Nielsen, said: “This is one of the best Fairs I have ever been to – the breadth of companies and students attending and the organisation of the whole event, from start to finish, has been outstanding and is a real credit to Warwick. The success of the Fair has really helped Warwick and your graduates to ‘stand out’.”

“Thank you Warwick, the recent careers fair in Shanghai was excellent as it gathered together so many different employers with different opportunities, which is so helpful to me as I explore my career options,” Shuangyan Zhao, postgraduate WMG student.

Our next steps will be …

Further development of our international employability strategy in China and beyond including the ASEAN region, working closely with colleagues across the university to support the university’s education and international strategies and key priorities.

To find out more, you can contact …

Esther de Perlaky

Other information about this case study