Huge demand for degrees that triple wages back home

October 29, 2004

A dearth of university places in China means that 1.3 million of the country's school-leavers are denied a university place, so demand for places in the world-renowned British system is on the increase, according to the British Council, writes Phil Baty.

In 2002, Britain became the largest importer of Chinese students in the world, taking about 28,000 of the 120,000 Chinese students who studied abroad.

The British Council said this week that Britain welcomed 50,000 Chinese students a year (compared with 2,500 six years ago). Some 32,000 enter British universities, and a further 10,000 or so join colleges of further education, often to seek a university place from their British base.

But despite a British government-backed push to accommodate more full-fee paying Chinese students - and a number of initiatives to establish British campuses in China - demand is clearly outstripping supply. Chinese students can double or triple their salaries at home with a British degree.

"Our recent studies predicted that there will be a steady increase in demand from China," said Nick Butler, education exports manager for the British Council. "Over the past three years this has been running ahead of our projections."

He added: "With 50,000 students, it is inevitable that a very small minority will seek access with fraudulent documents."

Mr Butler said that while the Chinese Government regulated agents operating in China through a licensing system, there was no regulation of agents in the UK.

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