The UK Government aims to increase the number of British students in China. The reason for the initiative is to produce more globally competitive graduates for the future of the economy of Britain. China is being singled out as a priority destination because of its being the fastest growing major economy in the world.
British Council chief executive Martin Davidson says that they have continually heard from business leaders about their concerns over the future of the UK in a global economy if future graduates do not have international experience and skills. The initiative which is dubbed as “Generation UK” was conceptualised to provide for the need.
Aside from the aim of producing more internationally educated and experienced graduates for the global economic future of the UK, this move of the government is also advantageous to students. Universities Minister David Willetts says that studying abroad provides a high degree of potential benefits because of the important skills and knowledge learned which increases their opportunities for employment when they go back to their home country Britain.
Mr Davidson relates that other countries have been leaving the UK far behind when talking about outward mobility of young students. In the UK alone, the top two countries with the most students are the United States at No. 1 and China at No. 2 with more than 100,000. Despite the huge number, Chinese universities have great potential in drawing more of their youth to study at home because of the schools’ rise in the global league tables, some experts say. Top Chinese universities have been aggressive in improving the diversity of their student population and expanding their international student recruitment.
The UK government aims to reach out to 15,000 students to encourage them to study in China. The count of British students in China was 3,500 in 2011 which the UK government wants to reach up to 15,000 not later than 2016. However, there are fears that the initiative will lure the brightest students away from Britain. The programme provides students with subsidized places at universities and internships with major Chinese companies.
In the programme, British students will be given a one-year university scholarships or two-month internships with Chinese businesses. £400,000 from tax funds will be poured in by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to the programme in a span of two years. The British Council will also contribute £250,000. The government is also asking businesses to give sponsorships so that more students can be provided with the scholarship. Students who will be awarded the scholarship will be able to save from £3,000 to £5,000 in fees and living expenses for the year that they are in the scholarship.
Do you think the programme of the UK government to send British students to China puts Britain in a net advantage? What do you think of Britain’s initiative of having its students acquire some knowledge and skills in China? While many Chinese study in the UK, why do you think their universities back in China are expanding its recruitment of international students? What are your ideas about this exchange of students?