The British Council is to offer more scholarships for UK students to study in China amid concern from businesses that graduates lack the experience to work with the rising economic giant.
The council’s Generation UK campaign aims for at least 15,000 UK students to study or gain work experience in China by 2016.
In 2011, about 3,500 studied in the country, a figure Generation UK aims to increase by at least a third by September 2016.
The council said that it would boost the “amount and variety” of available academic scholarships as well as offering two-month funded internships across China for UK students.
University careers advisers were taken to China in March to help them to better understand job opportunities available in the country, the council said.
Martin Davidson, the council’s chief executive, said that business leaders had told the organisation “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. Currently the UK lags far behind other nations in terms of young people’s outward mobility,” he warned.
This is not the first time concerns have been raised that UK students are failing to pick up experience overseas during their time at university.
In March 2012 a report, Recommendations to Support UK Outward Student Mobility, by the UK Higher Education International Unit recommended the creation of a national strategy to encourage student mobility, noting that the UK ranked 25th in the world in terms of the number of students studying abroad.
During five upcoming workshop sessions in London, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast, the council will explain to university staff how institutions can participate in the campaign.
In the autumn, the British Council will also stage a roadshow targeted at students.