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New BC scheme wants 15,000 Brits in China

A campaign to encourage and enable UK students to gain studying or internship experience in China was launched this week by the British Council, with an ambition to see at least 15,000 UK students in China by September 2016.

Willetts said the campaign was vital for students, their universities and UK business

Willetts cited over 400,000 international students studying in Britain as compares with about 30,000 Brits studying abroad

Generation UK, which will eventually widen its reach to encompass other countries, is a campaign that will include some funded scholarships and support packages for those interested in interning with businesses in China on an unpaid basis.

A regional roadshow to various universities to promote awareness about the campaign will be organised this month and again in the autumn, as the British Council seeks to build up awareness for the funded opportunities to engage with China and the importance of considering Asian experience.

Universities Minister, David Willetts, spoke at the launch and emphasised the importance of ensuring more China-experienced Brits. He pointed out that new scheme would lead to “life-transforming” opportunities for the students themselves, but also lead to gains for universities and UK businesses/employers.

“Generation UK will provide young people with an opportunity to work or study in China, giving them real life experiences that will make them more attractive to businesses in the UK and abroad,” he said.

Mandarin skills will not be necessary in order to apply

The UK lags far behind other nations when it comes to outward student mobility: Willetts cited over 400,000 international students studying in Britain as compared with about 30,000 Brits studying abroad.

British Council CEO, Martin Davidson, echoed the importance of the campaign for ‘UK PLC’.”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,” he said, adding that historically, the UK “had never been a stay-at-home nation”.

“Study abroad is nothing like the norm that we need it to be.”

A promotional video features business people in China

A promotional video features business people in China

Supporting careers advisors in their understanding of international opportunities is the third key strand of Generation UK. In March, the British Council in China arranged the 2013 UK-Career Advisers’ Mission to China.

This trip laid the foundation for career advisers representing UK institutions to better understand the opportunities in China, and to explore the possibilities of future collaboration in the form of internship placements and graduate trainee programmes.

The scheme mirrors the 100,000 Strong China initiative of the US, and Australia has an AsiaBound Grants programme, announced last year

It is illegal for companies to pay foreign interns in China, but there will be over 120 funded internship placements for a two-month professional internship available for 2013/14, and 15 academic scholarships available that will cover up to a year of tuition and accommodation in 2013/14. Further funded scholarships will be available for 2014/15.

Mandarin skills will not be necessary to apply. There are a range of English-medium programmes, or those targeted at beginners, although students with Chinese language skills can choose to study on courses that have language requirements.

Working in collaboration with UKTI and the British Chamber of Commerce in China, the British Council will continue to build up the scope of the programme. According to The Daily Telegraph, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is investing some £400,000 into the programme over two years, while another £250,000 will come from the British Council.

The scheme mirrors the 100,000 Strong China initiative of the US, which intends to boost the number of Americans studying in China. Australia also has an AsiaBound Grants programme, announced last year.

Anne Marie Graham, Head of Outward Student Mobility, at the UK HE International Unit, also spoke at the event, and cited the Broadening Horizons report that the British Council published this year, examining factors that hinder UK and US students from studying abroad. She said issues around portability of student loans, length of stay overseas and accessing enough information about options all had to be addressed.

A commitment to measure mobility trends and deliver robust data about the benefits of study abroad would be made over the next two years, she said.

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