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Education and Innovation

UK education in China

The UK's international pedigree in education is well recognised in China. UK universities attract large numbers of Chinese students for bachelors, master's and doctoral programmes in the UK. Increasingly they are also delivering programmes in China through innovative collaboration with Chinese partners. Joint-research collaborations, two-way staff and student exchanges and programs linked with industry are also on the increase.

China also offers opportunities for UK companies currently engaged in the accreditation of professional qualifications and in practical training for professionals. For FE colleges, this extends to the design of curricula for vocational courses and teacher training.

At school level, Britain continues to lead the way in the development of international schools and is already providing English-language training and A-level teaching to thousands of students in China. 

In short, the UK has all of the necessary educational capabilities to help develop a new generation of Chinese graduates, providing them with the entrepreneurial, creative and innovative skills for which Britain is already held in great renown.

China's education sector - a growing market

Demand for joint courses in niche and specialist areas continues to grow in China. As more high school graduates apply to universities in the country, the universities are responding by expanding their offerings and to creating international partnerships that can complement their existing curricula. 

The current shift of emphasis from "made in China" to "created in China" is also expected to lead to an increased demand for the skills of the British education sector. The shift in mindset will require an entrepreneurial, innovation-led economy in which both research and development and links between universities and business are encouraged.

The challenges in China

The UK faces competition in the education sector from other countries including the US, Australia, Canada, France and Germany, especially in tier one cities like Beijing and Shanghai. However, broadly speaking, China favours British education, which puts UK institutions at an advantage.

As China's tier 2 cities develop they offer other potential markets. UK universities are already successfully co-delivering specialist and niche programmes with partners in cities such as Xian, Chengdu and Wuhan, as well as in other regional cities with strong economies and famous educational institutions.

Chinese institutions are particularly ranking-conscious and still tend to favour the overall ranking of a university over specific subject rankings. Individual Chinese partner's aspirations and rate of growth must also be taken into account as they may clash with those of a UK institution in the region.

Furthermore, as education regulations differ internationally, UK organisations need to be clear about what is feasible in a Sino-UK partnership. Having the right relationships and up-to-date information can help universities make informed decisions on how to carry through their agreement.

Education agreements with Chinese institutions must be commercially sustainable. A clear understanding of how each side will benefit, both academically and commercially, is critical to long-term success. 

The future

As China continues to evolve, collaboration in the education sector is becoming more diverse, involving a two-way exchange of knowledge, students and subject specialists. The themes of entrepreneurship and employability are also increasingly important in China, along with the commercialisation of research and development.

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