The 26-year-old academic writing consultant Wang Chaochun is anxious. During the peak season when Chinese students flock to apply to study abroad, his monthly income was about RMB 15,000. However, with the popularization of AIGC technology, Wang Chaochun didn't get any new orders in the past two months.

"The personal statement is a hurdle for many Chinese students applying for master's and doctoral programs in the UK and the US. Due to language proficiency and differences in thinking between cultures, the written statements are often stereotyped and contain many grammatical errors. Therefore, they will seek help from professional consultants," Wang Chaochun explained to National Business Daily (NBD). 

ChatGPT was developed in the West and the personal statements it generates are very much in line with their language habits and the interests of admissions office teachers at British and American schools, Wang added.

Not only have independent academic writing consultants been greatly affected by the emergence of AI tools such as ChatGPT, but also the business lines of international education consulting agencies have been continuously eroded.

Zhang Ye, owner of an overseas education consulting agency headquartered in London but with branches in several cities in China, told NBD that the businesses including application for bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs for Chinese students studying in the UK, and thesis proofreading have been affected by ChatGPT, and some business lines have even shrunk by more than 60%.

Zhang Ye told NBD that the thesis proofreading business has been most affected, and ChatGPT has already replaced its role. "For example, if an article with a high repetition rate is thrown into the ChatGPT dialogue box and a rewrite instruction is given, it can generate a version with completely different language organization. Similarly, if there are many grammar errors in an article, giving a check grammar instruction can modify it in a short time."

In the view of a financing consultant with a private equity financing company, industries with intensive data and strong data accessibility will be the first to be affected by ChatGPT. "The GPT model continues to iterate, and the performance of natural language understanding and content generation has greatly improved. ChatGPT has opened the curtain on the natural language processing productivity revolution." 

In order to "survive" the competition, Zhang Ye is developing an AI system, trying to seek breakthroughs in technology to expand the influence of his agency among international students.

The aforementioned financing consultant said, "Agencies should first sort out how their services can be empowered by ChatGPT, iteratively update their business strategies, and combine their own resource endowments and demand scenarios to consider whether they can create new products based on ChatGPT. The segmentation of demand gives rise to opportunities for vertical models and AI products, such as different demands for content generation based on the region, major, and language of the school. Agencies can evaluate their own data accumulation and advantages, and train exclusive AI products."

However, the development cost of AI system is not low. Zhang Ye said to NBD that training large-scale language models requires high-performance hardware such as GPUs and TPUs. The higher the performance and the faster the training speed, the more expensive the price. "The expected R&D and maintenance costs plus labor costs in the first year are around 1.31 million pounds. If progress meets expectations, the budget for expanding the market will be nearly 2 million pounds."

"The wave of AI will not recede. For small businesses and individuals, AI should be a tool to improve efficiency. Even if the industry you are engaged in has no direct relationship with AI, you can try to learn and use AI technology to change your life and way of thinking," Zhang Ye said.

Editor: Bell