UK group wants Chinese students to stay after studies end

By Wang Mingjie in London | | Updated: 2017-11-28 00:49

UK group wants Chinese students to stay after studies end

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, speaks at the Tech World Tour in London on November 16, 2017. [Photo provided to]

A United Kingdom pressure group is lobbying the British government to allow Chinese students to stay in the country for longer.

Tech London Advocates, a private-sector-led coalition of 5,400 experts that champions London’s potential as a world-class technology hub, said it is working closely with the UK government on the issue because British businesses will benefit from access to Chinese talent.

Russ Shaw, the organization's founder, said Chinese students bring intellectual capability and help companies have a more global outlook.

"With China becoming the most important market in the world, it does not make sense to send those Chinese students back," he said.

More than 91,000 Chinese students enrolled at British higher education institutions last year, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the total non-EU student population, the highest percentage of overseas students in the UK.

Tech London Advocates said the current system prevents local businesses from benefiting from skills that Chinese students learned in the UK.

"We see many Chinese students want to become entrepreneurs or work in tech sectors after graduating in the UK, but the current visa system makes it difficult for them to achieve that," Shaw said.

Zhang Lu, an Imperial College London undergraduate studying materials science and engineering, said he would like to work in the UK after his studies end, so he can gain some international experience, but he is not optimistic it will be possible.

"In order to remain in the UK to work, one must be sponsored by a company to obtain a Tier 2 visa, and there is a limited quota for each company," Zhang said. "That means, unless you are at the best of the best companies, you will have a minimal chance to stay."

Zhang said he believes Britain will benefit if Chinese students are allowed to remain in the country.

And Wu Jianzhang, a postgraduate at London Business School, would also like to stay in the UK after graduation.

"London is a metropolis unlike anywhere else. It is a cultural melting pot with an international vibe, inclusiveness, and variety that grasps my heart," he said.

Tech London Advocates wants it to be easier for students to get Tier 2 visa and for incubators, accelerators, and venture capital companies to sponsor them.

"We have been very outspoken with the immigration minister and the migration advisory committee, to say we want Chinese students to stay, and the good news is that the government is listening," said Shaw.

He said he believes the idea makes even more sense in light of the UK's decision to leave the EU.

This month, as part of its ongoing commitment to welcome talented people from across the globe, the UK Home Office announced it will double the number of visas available through the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, from 1,000 to 2,000 a year.

Zhang Yangfei contributed to this story.

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