74 global institutions exhibited in both London and Manchester to show the availability of international education taught in English, promoting offshore study options to the UK domestic student audience.
The HEIs represented at least 15 nations, including the UAE, Canada, and of course China.
“People who can speak Chinese are going to have a great advantage in terms of employment”
The increased presence of Chinese universities was marked, however, with only one institution making the journey to the past two years’ events.
China is currently the third most popular destination for mobile study, after the US and UK. Additionally, the Ministry of Education recently declared that it would aim for 500,000 foreign students in the HE system by 2020.
A spokesperson from Nanjing University said the increasingly warm diplomatic and business relations between the two nations would impact student recruitment and bilateral understanding through mobile students.
“China and the UK are now seeking unprecedentedly close co-operation in the fields of economy, culture and education. Consequently, the need to come to study Chinese language and to understand Chinese culture, country, people and society is… increasing,” they said.
In a statement, John Demer, UK director of FPP EDU Media (which operates The Student World expo), agreed that Brexit and further developments in UK-Sino relations were triggers for a change to a “two-way street” in student recruitment.
“On her trade visit to China earlier this year, UK prime minister Theresa May spoke of a ‘golden era in UK-China relations’. With UK universities facing a potentially challenging future after Brexit, tempting students to the UK from places outside the EU, such as China, could well be key to balancing the books,” he said.
“However, it seems that China sees its relationship with the UK on higher education as a two-way street, and is keen to tempt British scholars to sign up to its own well-respected institutions,” Demer added.
Another key factor may be tuition fees, with UK undergraduates can currently pay as much as £9,250 a year, compared to as little as £1,500 per year, for a similar course in China.
Zhaotian Zhang from the China Education Association for International Exchange said that a developing economy, both at home and on the world stage, was making China an attractive option for international students looking for strong graduate outcomes.
“The fast development of China’s economy has made it very clear that people who can speak Chinese and have firsthand experience of living in China are going to have a great advantage in terms of employment”.