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Engaging in new ways with international prospective PhD applicants

A screenshot of the virtual platform used to engage three students in a panel discussion with prospective students in China.

The platform used was able to put three current students in direct conversation with over 100 potential applicants via video and instant messaging.

6 December 2018

An online Q&A session took place on 8 November with prospective, Chinese PhD applicants who are interested in the China Scholarships Council (CSC) – University of Bristol Joint PhD Scholarship programme.

The Bristol Doctoral College, in conjunction with international partners OrigInsight, trialled a new mechanism for engaging with international scholarship applicants in China. On 8 November three of Bristol’s current CSC – UoB Joint PhD scholars provided an online Q&A event with prospective applicants based in China. The online event, hosted by OrigInsight, was conducted entirely in Mandarin, and enabled prospective applicants to submit their own questions about research culture and the student experience at Bristol.

This new initiative of interacting and communicating with prospective PhD candidates for the CSC – University of Bristol Joint PhD Scholarship programme, which is open and accepting applications until 18 January 2019, arose out of increased interest in the programme following the University’s presence at international recruitment fairs across China. Virtual events such as this trial have the benefit of building on pre-existing relationships and building on initial contact with recruitment markets.

The event was successful, with 191 people logging in to watch the event. Some of these were not just based in China, but were Chinese students studying elsewhere abroad such as Germany. Over half of the viewers watched for more than half an hour, which indicates a high level of positive engagement.

Kevin Higgins, the Global PhD Manager within the Bristol Doctoral College, described the virtual event as “an exciting development for the University, giving Chinese applicants who are considering Bristol for their research training the opportunity to ask questions and get advice directly from current PhD students. This kind of informal contact helps ensure that these ambitious and talented candidates make the right choices to help realise their career aspirations and can access the world-leading research expertise of the University of Bristol in a city voted the best in the UK.”

Zoe Hong, the lead contact for OrigInsight involved in the new initiative, said “It is great to see that the event was so popular that it attracted a lot of potential students. I believe this type of event is very new to the students as well.”

The BDC is excited to host future virtual events with its diverse population of interested future postgraduate researchers.

Further information

The BDC would welcome the involvement of academic staff, especially PhD supervisors or those currently advertising PhD opportunities, in future events that are planned for 2019.

If you would like to take part please email

Further information about the CSC-Joint PhD Scholarship Award can be found on the website.

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