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NCUK to further support Chinese students studying abroad

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-10 06:27
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Students engage in discussions at an art class in a program by the Northern Consortium United Kingdom. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Northern Consortium United Kingdom is seeking to promote cooperation between its member universities abroad and top Chinese universities to share high-quality education and provide more assistance to Chinese students.

"We hope to generate more programs suitable for Chinese students through interschool exchanges to comprehensively improve students in all aspects," said Stuart Smith, CEO of NCUK, at a partnership meeting in Beijing in late April.

NCUK specializes in offering support and services to international students through its network of leading universities.

More face-to-face student consultations and academic visits to China will be arranged by university partners of NCUK, Smith says. "They will meet with students in person, and share their knowledge and expertise."

In addition, new accredited subjects such as computer science will be introduced, which will allow students to progress with degree courses in artificial intelligence, robotics and cybersecurity.

"We also hope to expand our postgraduate preparatory services to students who have graduated from undergraduate programs," Smith adds.

For NCUK, China is one of the most important markets in the world, according to Smith.

"About 40 percent of our students come from China, so we are very focused on providing support to Chinese students," Smith says.

Since its inception, the body has helped more than 45,000 students to get into leading universities worldwide. It has found that Chinese students are "generally excellent", especially in traditional subjects when they study abroad.

"Our feedback suggests that NCUK students often encounter fewer problems when studying abroad. This feedback comes directly from the universities we partner with. So overall, it is a very positive academic and cultural experience for them," Smith says.

He says that China's higher education market will be on the rebound in the next five years.

"We have seen that students have shown greater interest in evaluating education, not only in terms of expenditure, but also in their expectations for the final output, especially in terms of career-thinking," Smith says.

The students can first study in top Chinese senior middle schools or universities in collaboration with NCUK for one or two years before they transfer to leading universities in the UK, Australia, North America and New Zealand to obtain their bachelor's degree.

"Students can be well-prepared in terms of both academic and social skills, and can better integrate into higher education in the UK," Smith says.

The International Business School of the Beijing Foreign Studies University currently has approximately 70 students under the NCUK program.

"In addition to academic classes, NCUK has arranged programs on cross-cultural communication and learning methods such as time management, as well as how to write papers and search literature," says Zhang Yanping, director of the international cooperation office of the BFSU's business school, which has been working with the body since 2014. "They have been very helpful to our students."

The domestic courses are close to those offered in UK universities, and in some cases, more difficult, and students are evaluated the way they would be in universities abroad, Zhang says. "This way, they have been adapting quickly to study abroad."

Beijing No 35 High School has worked with NCUK for nearly 11 years. The school currently has about 20 students under the program and 17 NCUK-accredited faculty members, according to Wu Hao, head of the high school's international department.

"The students must have self-discipline because there are many areas of self-directed learning and they need to manage their time well. If they prepare themselves mentally before entering the program, they will smoothly follow on the right path," Wu says.

Stuart Smith (center), CEO of NCUK, with NCUK partners at a recent meeting in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The students receive cross-disciplinary training under the program.

"No one will babysit you and urge you to finish your assignments, but you need to meet the deadline," Wu adds.

The study-abroad market in China is accelerating its recovery after COVID-19, as several educational institutions report a surge in inquiries about learning opportunities in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the United States.

A report of the New Oriental Education and Technology Group showed that its overseas test preparation and study-abroad consultation businesses increased by approximately 17 percent and 14 percent respectively year-on-year in the second quarter of the fiscal year 2023.

According to the company EIC Education, its study-abroad consultations increased by 45 percent in January and February compared to the same period in 2022, with 133 percent increase for Australia, 110 percent for Canada, and a 50 percent increase for the UK and the US.

NCUK China director Feng Jianghua says the body will make more efforts to promote high-quality education and satisfy Chinese students' requirements.

"Their thirst for knowledge and curiosity about different education systems are the reasons behind this change," Feng says about Chinese students. "We look forward to (helping) more Chinese students enhance their all-round abilities on the basis of their high academic performance and become global talent."

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