Government must woo more Chinese students, say MPs

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The Government is urged today to offer scholarships to Chinese youngsters to study in the UK in an attempt to bolster the nation's worldwide reputation as a centre for international students.

MPs on the influential Commons education select committee want ministers to set up a foundation in partnership with industry to offer scholarships and fellowships to study in the UK to Chinese youngsters.

The MPs are worried that the UK is lagging behind other Western countries in wooing what is seen as the biggest potential market for international student recruits.

They report evidence which shows that "a significant minority of international students" already in the UK believe that the value for the money they pay for courses is "unsatisfactory".

Gordon Marsden, Labour MP for Blackpool South and a senior member of the select committee, said he would like finance for the new scholarships to be "split three ways, with one-third UK government funding, one-third Chinese government and one-third businesses that are operating in China".

The MPs also recommend that universities put on short courses in languages such as Mandarin so its academics can collaborate better with staff in Chinese universities.

They also urge the Government to put the setting of the Anglo-Chinese foundation as a top priority for an education summit already arranged between the British and Chinese governments in the autumn.

Barry Sheerman, Labour chairman of the committee, said: "Collaboration and partnership between institutions and individuals in the UK higher education sector and their counterparts in countries such as India and China are vitally important."

Bill Rammell, the minister for higher education, welcomed the "constructive recommendations" of the report.