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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 12:17 GMT
4m for China-UK university links
Tony Blair opened Nottingham's Chinese campus this autumn
The future importance of China to the higher education sector in the United Kingdom has been emphasised with the setting up of a 4m partnership unit.

Attracting overseas students has become a major economic consideration for UK universities - with fears that the UK is losing market share.

China's rapid drive towards creating a more educated workforce makes the country a key market for universities.

Nottingham University already runs a branch campus in Ningbo, China.

The UK-China University Partnership Scheme, which will be backed by 2m for the next two years, will co-ordinate efforts to link institutions in the two countries.

Nottingham degrees in China

The new universities' organisation, the CMU, welcomed the move, but called for its scope to be widened beyond an emphasis on science and technology.

Universities UK described the extra support for links with China as "excellent news".

The Department for Education and Skills says there are already 160 higher education partnerships with China - including a fully-fledged campus of the University of Nottingham in China, which was formally opened this year by the Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Rather than bringing Chinese students to the UK, the Nottingham project takes a UK university to China. The campus on China's eastern seaboard offers the same degree courses, taught in English, that students would take in Nottingham.

The University of Liverpool is also planning to set up a university in China, in partnership with China's Xi'an Jiaotong University.

The UK has been one of the most successful countries in attracting overseas students - but figures published earlier this year showed that its market share was slipping, with countries such as Australia drawing an increasing number of students.

Overseas students coming to UK universities pay much higher fees than UK students - making them a financially-attractive prospect.

There have been forecasts that the number of overseas students could treble to almost 900,000.

To encourage such growth, the government has announced a sharp increase in funding to finance promotional marketing - up by 50% to 2.6m in the next two years.

There have been complaints that the UK's visa system is obstructing legitimate student applications - and as part of this marketing drive, there are promises of a more straightforward process for overseas students.

University launches China campus
05 Sep 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Chinese students drawn to Britain
07 Sep 05 |  Education
Overseas students 'set to triple'
20 Apr 04 |  Education
Universities denounce visa move
05 Jul 05 |  Education

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