Study in the UK a Cheap Option as Pound Plunges
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Hugging an armful of introduction documents and fliers, 20-year-old Zhang Xiaowen from Beijing Normal University pushed her way through the crowd to the exhibition stand of London University's Goldsmiths College.
Having taken English as her major for over two years, she is planning to study at a British University.
The Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in China put on the largest and most impressive show at the 2009 China Education Expo, being held from February 28 to March 15. Zhang told China.org.cn: "I heard there was a big exhibition on, so I came along to find out more about studying overseas, particular in the UK."
"Lots of universities have set up information desks; London University, Loughborough University, the University of Warwick and so on. I have found out lots about the different colleges," she said.
The UK section features around 70 learning institutions, including universities, further education colleges, language schools, and arts and design institutes, presenting a multitude of options for people interested in studying in the UK.
Jazreel Goh Yeun, director of education marketing of the British Embassy's Culture and Education Section, said Chinese students and their parents can talk face to face with representatives of education institutions, and collect the latest and most accurate information to help them make informed choices. She said: "UK education is widely recognized by Chinese students and parents as among the best, with high quality education resources, internationally recognized qualifications, and simple application procedures for both study visas and post study work visas."
According to the British Council, visa applications from Chinese students to study in the UK in the first six months of 2008 increased 46 percent over the same period in 2007. 23,000 Chinese students were granted visas to study in the UK in 2007, and the success rate for visa applications was 82 percent in China as a whole, and 90 percent in Beijing. There are 60,000 Chinese students in the UK at present, of whom 51,000 are studying at higher education institutions.
The exhibition also gave visitors the opportunity to learn about British culture and lifestyle, and returning Chinese students were also on hand to answer questions and share their experiences of studying in the UK.
Jazreel said: "On the one hand, we cannot deny the negative influence of the global economic crisis on the education market. But on the other hand, the crisis has to some extent boosted demand. It's a bad time for people to look for a job, but maybe a perfect time for them to further their studies."
She predicted the education market in China this year would expand even faster than before despite worldwide financial difficulties.
From June 30, 2008, a new Post-Study Work Program has allowed students to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years after finishing their studies. The policy offers a precious opportunity for students to work in an international and diverse environment and boost their employability in the Chinese job market.
Tony Westaway, director of the International Office of Loughborough University, told China.org.cn: "Studying in the UK is not only the premier option for international students, but also an ideal choice for Chinese students. Last year, more than 1,000 Chinese students entered our university." He believes the financial crisis is an opportunity for the people who want to further their studies. The cost of a year's postgraduate study in 2009 will be £19,640 (194,403 yuan), comprising £10,400 fees (102,752 yuan), £4,725 (46,683 yuan) accommodation costs, and £4,515 living expenses (44,608 yuan). The fees have not changed, but the plunge in the value of British Pound has made the exchange rate very favorable to Chinese students.
"This year Chinese students will be paying 71.2 percent of the 2007 cost. I think we will get a lot of applications this year. We are very competitive."
The 2009 China Education Expo will be open to the public in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou from February 28 to March 15.
Zhang Xiaowen said: "Because of the poor global outlook, even the job market in China is difficult. It's hard to find a good job. So I'm better off furthering my studies."
"The value of the yuan is rising. It means an overseas education is getting cheaper. I think it's a good time to go to the UK. About 70 percent of my classmates are thinking of studying abroad," she said.
(China.org.cn by Wang Ke March 2, 2009)