Analysis of overseas universities on Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo in Q3 2023 emphasizes the importance of global university rankings for a Chinese audience. At the same time, we continue to see the strength of Hong Kong, the UK, and Singapore as the places with the most significant outreach to mainland Chinese students.
As with Dragon Trail’s rankings for the tourism industry, WeChat accounts are ranked by total number of article views for the week, and Weibo accounts are ranked by total number of audience engagements (likes, reposts, and comments) for the week. Data is collected each Monday, for the previous week’s Saturday-Friday.
In Q3 2023, we tracked 35 universities on WeChat (32 of which were active), and 54 universities on Weibo (39 of which were active). This list includes universities in 13 countries and territories in Asia, Europe, Oceania, and North America.
Universities who would like to be added to the list should contact Dragon Trail directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the top 20 university rankings on WeChat and Weibo, 13 universities are form the UK. Hong Kong and Singapore also demonstrate strong activity on both platforms. In Australia, Monash University and the University of Queensland exhibit a strong presence. Universities in the US and Canada, though they admit a substantial number of Chinese students, maintain a comparatively lower level of activity.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University emerges as the frontrunner on both WeChat and Weibo, with popular content encompassing academic accomplishments, campus life, projects in the field of natural sciences, inspirational messages for students, and graduation-related information.
International university rankings, such as the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, generated the highest readership and engagement upon their release, with universities actively sharing their ranking achievements.
WeChat and Weibo serve as effective platforms for universities to disseminate useful information such as graduation details, application deadlines, alumni gatherings, and special events like celebrations for the establishment of the HKSAR.
Among education accounts on WeChat, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and The University of Hong Kong lead the way, amassing a total of 244,984 and 215,638 views, constituting 32.29% of the total views from 32 education accounts.
In Q3, the dominant themes in the most-read WeChat posts revolved around the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2023, QS World University Rankings 2024, and the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University received the most views for its content related to university rankings, proudly announcing its rise from 5th to 4th place in the THE Young University Rankings 2023. Furthermore, UCL garnered substantial views for being named University of the Year 2024 by The Sunday Times Good University Guide.
(From left to right) the official WeChat accounts of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, University College London, and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
WeChat proves to be an effective channel for communicating valuable information to Chinese students studying abroad. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University shared an article detailing their collaboration with RMIT University and the University of Sydney to develop high-strength and high-ductility titanium alloy using 3D printing. The University of Hong Kong provided insights into its graduation season and offered guidance on the best spots for graduation photos on campus. National University of Singapore invited Matthew Tan, a recent graduate of NUS and a cancer patient, to share his personal experiences with illness and how this experience enabled him to view adversity as an opportunity to become a compassionate and patient-centered pharmacist.
The University of Leeds experienced a notable drop from 1st place to 11th in the ranking, despite maintaining a consistent posting frequency. Conversely, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University demonstrated strength on Weibo, ascending to the top spot for the first time since Q3 2022, likely attributed to increased posting frequency and giveaway activities.
Among the most engaged posts on Weibo, The City University of Hong Kong extended a warm welcome to incoming students, offering a special freshman welcome kit and a chance to win a customized water bottle. The post encouraged students to share their anticipated experiences at the University, providing valuable resources for new undergraduates. To participate in the giveaway, students were required to follow CUHK’s Weibo account, like, share, and comment on the post, significantly boosting account’s total engagements and expanding the follower base. Another popular giveaway was hosted by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, featuring a night lamp inspired by the iconic PolyU buildings, illustrating the day and night scenes of the red-brick campus and accumulating a total of 223 engagements.
(From left to right) the official Weibo accounts of The City University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
If WeChat excels in conveying useful information through a combination of text and visuals, Weibo stands out as an optimal platform for sharing video content. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University actively utilizes video content, conducting three live stream events on Weibo in July and August, covering ‘New Student Info Day 2023,’ the ‘Global Smart Cities Sumit and the 3rd International Conference on Urban Informatics 2023’ (GSCS & ICUI 2023), and PolyU master graduates’ fashion show. All these live streams garnered substantial engagement.
(From left to right) Livestreams for New Student Info Day 2023, GSCS & ICUI 2023, and PolyU master graduates’ fashion show
Universities outside of Hong Kong were less active in sharing academic-related information, preferring to sharing scenic photos of their respective campuses.
(From left to right) Official Weibo accounts of Oxford University, Yale University, and The University of Melbourne