Online Education a New Frontier in China

Australia’s economic health is often linked to China’s appetite for its minerals – but a new kind of resources boom could be set to make its mark with online education as the next big product.

China’s education sector is the largest in the world with over nine million students taking the National Higher Education Entrance Examination in 2015. It accounts for over 4% of the nation’s GDP and is seeing record amounts of overseas investment.

And now, e-learning is rapidly emerging as one of Australia’s biggest exports to China, highlighted by the recent trade trip of 10 education technology companies to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing in August.

“It is estimated by 2017, the value of China’s online education market will reach A$36 billion so there is enormous benefit to NSW in exchanging knowledge and ideas with China in this sector,” said Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres, who led the program that was a joint initiative between Austrade and NSW Education.

The companies met a range of potential local partners to discuss distributing Australian e-learning products across China’s vast and valuable education system. This could lead to the creation of a big new market for Australian business in China beyond the usual commodities and agriculture.

This opportunity is already paying off for Australian education technology company Skwirk, which was selected to take part in the trade trip and is now set to expand its e-learning network to China. Skwirk is an online interactive learning portal for primary and secondary school students. The portal is accessed in over 1400 schools in countries across the world including Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Skwirk is now adding China’s e-learning sector to that growing list, already hiring a company representative and conducting ongoing discussions with potential business partners.

CEO David Weston said China’s vast appetite for Australian educational products is an impressive opportunity.

“This was a hugely beneficial trip for us at Skwirk. We knew there would be possibilities in China, but we did not predict the amount of interest we have received.

“We have now been back to continue conversations with multiple companies and investors, and employed our first China based representative. This would not have been possible without the help of Austrade and Stuart Ayres.”

The recent e-learning trade trip could be the start of something big for Australia’s economy, and Skwirk is now ideally positioned to take full advantage of China’s big appetite for Aussie e-learning.

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