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john demer

Chinese universities using events to recruit UK students

Chinese universities have identified the UK as a fertile recruitment ground for students, and more than 35 institutions from China are set to descend on events in London and Manchester this month (17 & 18 March) in a bid to tempt students to study in the East.

At the March 2018 The Student World fair, an event held in London and Manchester which showcases overseas universities that offer courses in English, 36 Chinese institutions will exhibit. This is a significant increase on previous years. Only one Chinese institution exhibited at the event across both the 2016 and 2017 exhibitions. 

The fairs also involve a market intelligence seminar programme, a drinks reception, and one-to-one career advisory sessions with university representatives.

Although traditionally China has been one of the biggest exporters of international students to overseas markets, it is now the third most popular destination for students studying abroad behind the US and the UK.  

John Demer (pictured), UK executive director of FPP EDU Media, which operates The Student World expo, said: “With tuition fees in England now reaching £9,250, and politicians using higher education like a political football, it is easy to see why many school-leavers in England may have become disillusioned with their domestic university system. Overseas study has never been more attractive.

“It is a time when the UK might hope to be recruiting more students from outside Europe – but it looks like there is also a push from Chinese institutions to tempt British students to head the other way.”

China’s Ministry of Education has targeted attracting at least 500,000 international students by 2020. The UK currently has 438,000 international students.

Among the Chinese universities attending The Student World are Peking University, Nanjing University and Zhejiang University, all of which have been named among the world’s top 200 universities, as ranked by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

According to a recent report by The Economist, UK students are increasingly likely to choose foreign universities for reasons that include the proliferation of overseas universities offering courses in English, and their relative affordability following the increase in tuition fees charged by English universities. A 2016 report found that the number of UK residents seeking degrees or work exchanges in China has more than tripled in 10 years. 

Annual tuition fees in China are typically between about £1,500 and £3,000.