Published on February 21, 2014 | by Edwige Dubois


Surge in Chinese students seeking art degrees at UAL

[L-R] Kunzhan Tao (Tank), Yumeng Huang (Tim) and Hu Shuang (Bob) are three Chinese students who chose to study at CSM [Bethe Dabbs]

UAL has seen its number of Chinese students increase 100 per cent in the past five years, there are now 1,840 Chinese students at UAL, representing a tenth of the university’s total student population.

According to Chinese students, UAL has a great reputation in their country – especially Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion for having produced great talents like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and John Galliano.

Seven of the eight Chinese designers participating in this year’s BFC International Fashion Showcase studied at UAL colleges.

The show, held in The Strand during London Fashion Week, displayed the work of emerging fashion designers from 14 different countries.


James Bowie, a FdA Fine Art student at CSM and member of UAL’s Chinese Society, believes Chinese students are interested in the popularity of the university and that “they all want to go to UAL for the name.”

London universities in general have seen a huge increase in the number of Chinese students studying art and design courses, with a rise of 150 per cent in the past five years.

“Clearly more and more Chinese people are getting rich, and if you’re rich, it doesn’t matter whether you’re studying law or business anymore – there’s no need to. So, therefore, you can approach what you really want to do,” said Bowie.

Art and design courses are the second most popular type of course for Chinese students in London, with business courses still remaining the most sought after.


Hu Shuang, studying MA Character Animation at CSM, says London has widened his experience: “In China, the art is mainly oil painting, water colour, or Chinese painting. Artists hardly have exhibitions in China – the art market moves to the Internet. In London, art is everywhere.”

Bowie said he was influenced by his parents: “The traditional thinking of Chinese parents would be to send their children off abroad for education. This has always been the case; that good education is always achieved abroad; that if your child studied abroad then he is the most intelligent of the bunch.”

According to Shuang, the most common international destinations for Chinese students are the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia.

His classmate, Yumeng Huang, said: “I had to chose between studying in London or New York, and my friend was studying at CSM, so I chose to come here.”

Number one choice

“Let me make this clear to you and to the whole of China. There is no limit to the number of Chinese who can study in Britain.” George Osbourne

London is China’s number one choice for international students and, with over 12,000 Chinese students currently studying there, they are the biggest international student community in the capital.

On his last trade mission in China, Chancellor George Osborne told students in Beijing: “We already have 130,000 Chinese students like you studying in Britain. I want more of you to come.”

He added: “Let me make this clear to you and to the whole of China. There is no limit to the number of Chinese who can study in Britain.”


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