Mayor urges Chinese students
to study design in London

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London mayor urges Chinese design students to study in London

News: London mayor Boris Johnson has declared that the city's design schools will welcome Chinese students "with open arms", following concerns that visa restrictions are putting off overseas talent.

Speaking at Beijing's Peking University yesterday as part of a London trade mission to China, Johnson said: "I'm here to let students know that if they would like to study internationally, London's world class higher education intuitions will welcome them with open arms."

"Our creative hubs from Central Saint Martins to Royal College of Art are filled with a plethora of international artistic master minds shaping the designs of things to come," he continued. "So I hope many young people take me up on the offer to expand their horizons and study in London."

There is no cap on the number of international students that can study in the UK and 67,000 of the country's current overseas students come from China, but recent changes to immigration rules have made it more difficult for them to remain in the UK after graduation.

This move has raised concerns amongst leading figures from London's design institutions, who feel that part of the appeal to creative overseas students is the opportunity to stay in London upon completion of their studies.

In a Dezeen story earlier this month, leading figures on the London design scene raised concerns over new visa rules that make it harder for overseas students to stay in the city. "It would be a disaster for London," said Nigel Coates, professor emeritus at the Royal College of Art. "It's making it very, very difficult for AA students," agreed Sadie Morgan, president of the Architectural Association school.

Johnson is understood to share the institutions' concerns and convened a meeting with leading London arts schools this summer to discuss the issue, but the mayor has no influence over national immigration policy.

Last year writer and broadcaster Andrew Marr warned that the Royal College of Art will end up as a "Chinese finishing school" unless the UK government does more to encourage young people to study art and design.

Image of City Hall, Boris Johnson's headquarters in London, is courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • Brad

    The mayor should have a look at the current demographic of design courses, which is probably around 40% Chinese already. If there’s one population that needs to be encouraged to study design, it is ironically the British students who don’t see design as a viable career. School curricula reinforces this idea unfortunately.

  • Nick

    “London mayor Boris Johnson has declared that the city’s design schools will welcome Chinese student fees “with open arms.” There you go, fixed it for you.
    And I’m with Brad, UK universities do need to hold some responsibility to provide a certain percentage of their places to UK students to ensure that our education system is first and foremost educating our own young people. Otherwise, in time these universities themselves will die off due to a lack of good tutors coming through, plus we’ll be left with an unskilled population.

  • David

    Andrew Marr hit the nail on the head – Some UK institutions are becoming finishing schools for Chinese students. It seems like a way to bring revenue into the system and I agree with Nick, he is welcoming their fees with open arms. The problems run a lot deeper with design not being taken seriously in the lower educational system. I feel that if the current trend continues, it could be detrimental to UK art and design education with a lack of home grown talent. If you studied art or design at BA Level you will know the percentage of your classmates that are still practicing it now (probably not many).