CHINA UK capital sees surge in Chinese student numbers

CHINA

UK capital sees surge in Chinese student numbers

Global Times

01:20, March 22, 2019

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Chinese students get information on studying in the UK at an international education exhibition held in Beijing. (Photo: VCG)

London is experiencing an unprecedented boom in international students, with China remaining its largest source.

The new statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveal that 118,145 international students came to London in 2017/18, which is an increase of 5.3 percent from 2016/17, twice the growth rate of the previous year.

Study London, the Mayor of London's official university guide, has hailed the statistics, announcing earlier this month it was a "significant win" for London with a marked uplift in overseas students to the capital for the fifth consecutive year.

China remains London's largest student market, growing by 89.6 percent since 2011 with a current total of 21,350 undertaking studies in the British capital. The US and Italy have maintained second and third positions, with 7,105 and 5,770 students in London respectively. Also, China and India remain the fastest growing markets, with student numbers from both increasing by 20 percent since 2016/17.

Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal said, "These new statistics show that London is as big a draw as ever for the brightest young talent from around the world. I'm delighted to see so many students choosing our city as their destination of choice to learn and to discover all the benefits of a first-class education."

London has more world-leading universities than any other city on the planet, and a buzzing cultural landscape which attracts international students from more than 200 countries. "This is yet more evidence that London is open," Agrawal added.

Favorable factors 

The academic appeal of London is thought to be the biggest motivating factor for Chinese students.

Lalage Clay, Director of Education & Talent at London & Partners, told the Global Times, "They choose London because they will have access to quality teaching and can achieve an internationally recognised degree at a reputable, world-leading university. 

"The vast and varied choice of over 10,000 courses here means that Chinese students are more likely to get a place on their chosen course."

Graduate student Linda He told the Global Times she came to Imperial College London as it is a label of high quality education, which means graduates are in a better place for opportunities in China's competitive job market.

According to "Measuring Our Cultural Dividends", a report by the British Council published in 2017, Chinese people have a high level of interest in UK culture and there is a strong and direct link between Chinese students' interest in overseas culture and their attitudes towards studying overseas. 

In return, a spokeswoman for the British Council said that international students are "an immense source of long-term influence and soft power for the UK."

A deflated British Pound due to uncertainties over Brexit is another encouraging factor because it results in lower tuition bills. According to a study by the Oxford Migration Observatory, Chinese students experienced a 13 percent cut in fees between the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and December that year.

In addition, the British government has made changes to its immigration rules in order to attract more international students. After reducing documentary requirements for Tier 4 student visa applicants from China in July 2018, the Department of Education announced last week that international students will be given visa extensions of up to a year to look for work in the UK. 

Alongside the extended visas, the Department of Education and the Department for International Trade are to unveil an international education strategy for a 30 percent increase in overseas students in UK higher education during the next decade. 

The policy change aims to boost the numbers of overseas students after Brexit. Education Secretary Damian Hinds said, "As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever to reach out to our global partners and maximize the potential of our best assets - that includes our education and the international students this attracts."

It is also believed to be a bid to catch up in the race for a growing slice of the lucrative overseas student market.

Economic bonus

According to London and Partner's report on the Economic Impact of London's International Students, in 2016/17 international students studying at London universities directly contributed 3.4 billion pounds to the UK economy in 2016-17 and supported almost 40,000 jobs.

The contribution from subsistence spending was more than 1.7 billion pounds, while the impact of fees paid directly to London universities contributed a further 1.5 billion pounds. 

Around 180 million pounds was spent by overseas friends and relatives visiting international students in London. The largest contributions to London and the UK's economy were from China, contributing 598 million pounds, and the United States, contributing 240 million pounds. 

Lalage Clay told the Global Times that students from over 200 countries choose London year upon year for its rich academic and cultural offering, as well as the exciting career and life opportunities that living in a world class city can bring.

London has four of the world's top 40 universities. In addition, four of London's universities have recently each been ranked as the best in the world for Art & Design, Education, Social Policy & Administration, and Veterinary Science. 

Students from all over the world continue to choose London as a city to study for its buzzing and diverse cultural scene from world class museums, attractions, creative energy, and a vast choice of courses and world class institutions.

Study London is currently running a Summer Schools competition to encourage more Chinese students to come to London. The London Summer Schools campaign, which aims to promote short-term summer courses to Chinese students, will offer two lucky winners a fully funded educational adventure to the capital. The competition will close on March 31, 2019.

"London will continue to be a welcoming, outward facing city that highly values the Chinese and international students that make London great," Clay said.


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