At least 15,000 students a year will be encouraged to take courses in China as part of a Government-backed drive to boost British business, it was announced today.
By Graeme Paton, Education Editor
5:50PM BST 11 Jun 2013
Students will be given subsidised places at universities and internships with major Chinese companies in an attempt to give Britain more of a foothold in the world’s fastest-growing major economy, it emerged.
The move could raise concerns that some of the country’s brightest young people will desert the UK in favour of more attractive opportunities overseas.
But David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said studying abroad could be “hugely beneficial” to both individual students and the economy on the whole.
The move comes amid fears that Britain currently lags behind other nations in terms of the number of students seeking courses and work placements abroad – limiting the number of connections made with other countries.
The British Council, which is leading the campaign, said around 3,500 students travelled to China in 2011 but it wanted the number to grow to at 15,000 by 2016.
Speaking today, Mr Willetts said that courses and work placements in China would make students “more attractive to businesses in the UK and abroad."
“Studying abroad can be hugely beneficial,” he said. “It gives students vital skills and knowledge which can help increase their employment opportunities back home.”
The “Generation UK” campaign will attempt to find places for British students on a combination of one-year university scholarships or two-month internships with Chinese businesses.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is investing some £400,000 of taxpayers’ money in the programme over two years, while another £250,000 will come from the British Council.
Businesses are also being asked to provide sponsorship to further boost the scholarship programme to enable more students to take part.
It is understood that typical British students on a one-year university course will require between £3,000 and £5,000 a year to cover fees and living expenses, while interns will receive much less.
Martin Davidson, British Council chief executive, said: “Business leaders have told us many times that they fear for the UK in a global economy if our young people do not gain international experience and skills. This campaign is designed to provide that.
"Currently the UK lags far behind other nations in terms of young people’s outward mobility. We can only address that challenge if our business and education leaders can work together.”
More than 100,000 Chinese students currently study in the UK – more than any other country outside the United States.
But experts warned that Chinese universities were climbing global league tables in a move that would eventually draw rising numbers of students into taking courses at home.
Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said: “The leading Chinese institutions are actively seeking to improve their campus diversity and recruit more international students.”
Source - The Telegraph UK