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Sino-UK Education Week: How the demands of the education industry are changing in SW China

BritCham / CBBC
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The China-Britain Business Council and the British Chamber in South West China recently held a week of activities celebrating the strength of Sino-UK partnerships in education in the region.
CBBC and the Chamber’s shared Chengdu and Chongqing offices have been developing UK business in the region since 1996. In education, CBBC has been working with industry leaders such as Pearson, the British Council, Glasgow University, the University of Staffordshire and Oxford International College Chengdu to create partnerships that blend the best of British education with the best of China’s.
UK education in pole position
CBBC/Chamber member Pearson has been at the forefront of curriculum design in South West China - from primary education through to professional vocational qualifications - since February 2014. During the Sino UK Partnership Forum in Chengdu, Wu Huiqing, deputy dean of Sichuan College of Architecture, explained that the success of his college’s collaboration with the UK’s Lincoln College in developing vocational training and qualifications was to a large extent down to the experience and guidance of Pearson Education.
“It’s important to provide comprehensive vocational qualifications which develop 21st century skills sought after by employers across the globe. The students leave not only with internationally recognised qualifications, but also with real skills and knowledge that can immediately be put to use in a professional or academic context.”
Gloria Yuan – Regional Manager of South West China, Pearson 
The forum also brought into focus the continued importance of English language development in the region. The Chinese partners recognised the pedigree of British Council exams for IELTS and their online APTIS exams for everyone from teenagers to businesspeople. The UK’s commitment to student-based learning in teaching, as well as our strength in university collaboration in engineering, innovation and design, as exemplified by the Universities of Glasgow and Staffordshire, was also recognised by their counterparts in China.
But no room for complacency…
The forum also identified that there is no room for complacency in education. High-quality Chinese university partners such as South West Jiaotong University, the Southwestern University of Finance & Economics and Sichuan Normal University have many choices from a host of international education institutions. There is also a new-found confidence in today’s China about how much Chinese education institutions have to offer in terms of the value they add to global partnerships. Whilst historically Western academics would visit China to teach and Chinese students would travel to Western countries, this is now changing.  
For UK companies to create stronger, long-lasting partnerships, Chinese education institutions are looking for a greater balance in mobility between East and West. They are looking for a greater number of British students to study in China to understand the language, the culture and the business opportunities in the region.  
Furthermore, China’s investment in R&D and internet technologies has put Chinese universities in an important position in the development of global innovation eco-systems. Partnerships combining Chinese and overseas government, university research, finance and business elements are very much levelling the playing field in technological innovation.
This idea is true of education as well as business. Whilst the UK’s pedigree in education is strong, our institutions can seem conservative. There is a need to promote the opportunities to study in China and to create a better balance between the flow of Chinese students studying in the UK and the flow of British students going to China. 
There is also a continued battle to promote the UK’s creativity, innovation and engineering prowess in the minds of Chinese institutions. Institutions from the US, Germany and Australia have built strong relationships in China and are building a strong educational base.
In South West China, the feeling is that now is the time for UK education institutions to engage. The Chengdu and Chongqing economies are developing rapidly and there is a window of opportunity for UK organisations which is open now.
To find current business opportunities with Chinese education institutions across the country please visit www.cbbc.org/BO
For more information on the education, training and talent industry in China, please contact Simon Stewart in China at simon.stewart@cbbc.org.cn or Nathalie Cachet-Gaujard in the UK at nathalie.cachet-gaujard@cbbc.org.
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