In an Australian first, the University of Tasmania (UTAS) has launched its new Chinese language website hosted independently in mainland China today.

The new website dramatically improves user experience over foreign-hosted and partnered websites and, based on initial testing, is expected to see a threefold increase in site traffic in the first month of its launch.

The decision to have an independently hosted site in China was a logical one for UTAS, says Mr Ben Jones, Executive Director of UTAS’s International Office.

“The University has always had exceptionally close ties with China, with mainland Chinese students making up the largest cohort of our international student body,” Mr Jones explained.

Following the visit of President Xi Jinping late last year and the increasing links between China and Tasmania, interest in our courses has risen markedly. External sites have their advantages – for the universities – but they are clunky for users and the priority for us is to ensure that students can locate information about the university quickly and painlessly. A Chinese language website hosted by us in China was the only way to achieve this goal.”

With a user-friendly interface specifically created for Chinese audiences, the website provides essential information about studying at the University and living in Tasmania. It also has a live chat function allowing students to get real-time advice about courses and applying to the University from expert course advisers.

UTAS has not only launched their new website but a whole suite of verified Chinese social media including WeChat, Youku, QR codes to QQ, and links to Weibo and LinkedIn. The channels have proved to be a big hit with prospective Chinese students with some posts about the university getting thousands of hits in a matter of hours.

The site is aimed not just at students. Available in simplified and traditional Chinese the site allows everyone who advises a prospective student about their future education and career choices to be involved in the decision making process.

“Parents, teachers and other influencers play a very big role in decision making in China, particularly in things as important as choosing a university,” explained Mr Jones.

For this reason, it’s important in a market like China to provide key information in students’ native language so that key decision makers have the opportunity to be informed and feel comfortable with the decision being made. At the same time, knowing that their families and friends are confident in their choice is often crucial to a student’s success when studying abroad.”

The site, which can be viewed at https://utaschina.cn/, is available in web and mobile versions.