Experience the growing riches of the Far East

The booming Asian economies provide an abundance of studying opportunities to entice intrepid students from abroad

Anybody who’s been to a British university in the past decade can’t fail to have noticed the range of nationalities represented among the student population. Walking round a UK university campus is a bit like travelling on the London Underground: you’re just as likely to bump into someone from Malaysia as Manchester; Delhi as Derby; or the Congo as Coventry. Of course, this diversity enriches the overall student experience for homegrown undergraduates.

But think how much richer the experience would be for a British student if he or she decided to leave the UK behind for a year or two and study at a university in a faraway and culturally contrasting country. Now that really would provide a uniquely memorable experience – and stick out on a CV too!

For Western European students, the part of the world probably offering the greatest cultural contrast is Asia. The architecture; the flora and fauna; the range of religions; the music and art; and, of course, the cuisine. In all these areas, there is so much for Europeans to discover. And, although much of this continent has, until recently, appeared mysterious and out of reach, the combined effects of economic globalisation and social liberalisation have now created a landscape that is both more welcoming and accessible.

So where in Asia is it possible for British-based students to spend a period in university education? And how can it be organised? The countries with the most openings in this area are largely those with the most vibrant economies. They include China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea. But universities in Thailand and Indonesia are also moving slowly into this field.

Because of its sheer size, coupled with its recent economic expansion, China offers the most opportunities – and the biggest potential for growth.

The latest figures show that students from more than 180 countries are studying in China. The most popular subjects are currently Chinese medicine, Mandarin language, and management, but science is also increasing in popularity.

The phenomenon is encouraged by the Chinese authorities, with an increase in the number of university courses taught in English and a parallel growth in the number of Chinese-language programmes to prepare students to be taught in Mandarin. Individual universities, in an attempt to increase the proportion of international students on courses, have also introduced a number of scholarships to entice applications from outside the country.

For the student drawn to the call of the Orient, there are two main routes to achieve this goal. The first is to target a UK university with links to partner institutions in these countries. The second is to make direct contact with universities in Asia that accept foreign students; this can be done with the help of several websites dedicated to this purpose.

In the first category, there is a growing number of universities developing ever-deeper relationships with partners in Asia. These include the universities of Nottingham, Kent, Strathclyde, Birmingham, Liverpool and Surrey, to name just a handful.

Some of these have built campuses in the East. The University of Nottingham, for example has one in China and one in Malaysia, principally developed to enable students from these countries to study for a British university degree close to home, but also providing an easy option for its students to spend a year studying in a different country. Around 100 Nottingham students go to each campus every year.

In addition, the university’s international office helps smaller numbers spend a semester or two at partner universities in Singapore and Hong Kong. Vincenzo Raimo, director of the office, says the experience provided by these study abroad periods is invaluable for the students. “It gives students additional experience that will give them an advantage in the jobs market,” he says. “Firstly the language skills, but also the life skill of surviving in a very, very different culture.”

These types of opportunities now form a big part of British universities’ marketing operations aimed at school leavers making their higher education choices. An example is the University of Kent, which has degrees in law, business, film studies and politics, all including a year at named universities in China and Hong Kong.

At other universities, partner arrangements have been established at faculty level, where institutions see academic benefits in sharing knowledge, experience and resources. Strathclyde’s department of mechanical engineering, for example, sends around 50 students to study abroad every year, including some going to Japan and Singapore.

The university’s Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences sends five pharmacy students a year to spend six weeks at the International Medical University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This year the group did a short research project looking for possible cancer treatments in plant extracts.

Professor Brian Furman, who runs the scheme, says there are multiple benefits. “The students work in a real research laboratory for the first time in their careers,” he says. “They make lasting friendships with the Malaysian students who look after them, and they come back more self-confident. The link also strengthens the already well established relationship between the two universities in pharmacy education.”

The other route to an Oriental study experience is to contact Asian universities directly. There are a few websites that make it fairly easy to take that first step. For example, the StudyLink site (www.studylink.com) has an Asia section, which gives a country-by-country summary of the costs, application procedures and visa requirements, and also enables visitors to search for institutions in a particular country, offering a particular course.

Although this represents only a small part of StudyLink’s global operation, it is a growing activity. The Asia section of the site, launched only last summer, is already experiencing much higher volumes of traffic. Last July, that part of the site was getting around 9,000 visits per month, a figure that now stands at over 16,000.

A similar service is offered by Educations.com, based in Sweden, where Richard Prestage, business development manager, reports a growing interest among Asian universities to recruit Western students. “At international conferences I go to now, there’s a much larger presence of universities from China and Japan who want to increase their recruitment of students from Europe and America,” he says.

“Most of the activity on our site is centred on students inquiring about options for spending a semester or a year in Asia,” he says, “but sooner or later I think more of these universities will start offering full degree programmes taught in the English language.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£20 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer is nee...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage