AROUND 100 city students a year are set to take degrees in China as part of University of Liverpool expansion plans.
The expected explosion in overseas study comes as the region continues to capitalise on China’s growth as a super power with Litherland High School confirming it has become the first non-selective state school in Merseyside to offer Chinese at GCSE.
Since 2006 in partnership with Xi’an Jiaotong University, the University of Liverpool set up an independent university in Suzhou – an hour from Liverpool’s sister city, Shanghai.
After welcoming just 160 students in its first year the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) has seen staggering growth with 7,400 gifted and talented students hailing from across China now taking one of its 26 wide-ranging degrees.
Numbers could top the 10,000 mark within four years, university officials confirmed today.
This is despite the fact that only those ranked in the top 5% after a notoriously tough entry exam are eligible for a place. Of these around 1,600 students are taking up the option after two years in China to spend the remainder of their four-year course alongside second year students at the University of Liverpool.
The partnership also allows University of Liverpool students on degree courses ranging from electrical engineering to architecture to spend their second year studying in Suzhou with the number growing from one to 12 in the space of 12 months.
But today Professor David Sadler, vice president of Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, said he expected the annual take-up of University of Liverpool students to reach “maybe a hundred each year” within the next few years.
A further dozen University of Liverpool students are also choosing each year to put their degree on freeze for a year and spending 10 months on placements working with big hitters in fields ranging from electrical manufacture to financial services based on the burgeoning Suzhou Industrial Park base of the Chinese university.
Although not on the same proportions Prof Sadler also said he expected interest in this option to grow.
On the predicted growth of University of Liverpool students taking the Chinese study option, he said: “It is a major selling point in terms of the education experience we offer when we can say that part of the portfolio of our degree programme is the possibility of spending your second year in China.
“For the students it has to give them a huge edge in the employment market.”
On the placement scheme he added: “They spend a year in a foreign environment learning new skills and as an employer if you have two identical candidates but one has experience of working in China, who are you going to employ?”
Describing the news that Litherland High School was now offering GCSE Chinese, Prof Sadler said it was “an insightful” decision “that recognises the world is changing” and he expected more schools to follow suit with the region capitalising on the momentum gained from Liverpool’s appearance at the World Expo in Shanghai two years ago.
“I know that our own students are increasingly learning Chinese as an extra curricular option and within the engineering school alone 60 students starting their first year decided to learn Chinese.”
Other expansion plans afoot include increasing post graduate courses at the Chinese university with masters programmes expected to quadruple from three to 12.
“The growth of the university has been rapid even by Chinese standards and I would expect student numbers to have grown to eight to 10,000 within the next three or four years,” Prof Sadler said.