The Independent is reporting that Vince Cable has suggested that by 2020 up to 80,000 UK students should visit China every year to take part in study or work experience programmes and called for Britain to “raise its game” by addressing the huge disparity between the number of Chinese students who come to the UK and vice versa…
Only 5,400 UK students spent time studying in China last year, compared with 100,000 mainland Chinese students who travel to the UK each year, according to government figures.
Mr Cable – who acknowledged that a lack of language skills was making the problem worse – made his appeal while visiting Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou.
“The global centre of gravity is shifting eastwards to major economic powerhouses like China,” he said. “But while China sends around 100,000 students each year to the UK, we send little more than 5,000 in the opposite direction.”
Mr Cable added: “New independent research shows that a lack of language skills in the UK is costing our economy about £48bn. The shortage of Mandarin speakers is part of the problem. I don’t want young British people to get left behind.”
He called on businesses to support a British Council programme which aims to see around 80,000 UK students take part in study or work experience programmes in China by 2020.
Mr Cable also announced that Sun Yat Sen University had signed a memorandum of understanding with the universities of Warwick and Glasgow to offer student exchanges. “Participants in this programme will not only boost their own career prospects, but become ambassadors for UK-China relations on their return home,” he added.
Is the Business Secretary right on this one? Does the UK need to do much more to get our students over to China? What’s happening at a schools level and what impact is it having? Please let us know and feedback on your experiences in the comments or via Twitter…