London mayor urges Chinese design students to study in London

Mayor urges Chinese students to study design 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.