Theresa May announces new education links with China

Photo credit: UK Government on Twitter @UKinChina

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has unveiled a new education deal on the opening day of her first state visit to China.


The education initiative will see the launch of a new campaign to promote English language learning in China, as well as the extension of a maths teacher exchange programme allowing British teachers to visit China.

Other aspects of the deal include joint training of pre-school staff in the UK and China and information-sharing on vocational training. 

The scheme was announced as Mrs May visited Wuhan in central China, home to the largest number of students in any city worldwide.


A textbook case

It’s not the first time China and the UK have worked together closely on education – here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on in the last few years:

– The UK is Chinese students’ favourite overseas study destination after the US, with 155,000 students from China adding £5bn into the UK economy every year. Downing Street says 9,000 young British people are studying or completing work experience in China – up 60% in the last five years.

– Last year Peking University announced it would open an Oxford campus, enrolling students from China, the UK and around the world.

– English language learning is on the up in China; the country reached its highest ever level of English proficiency last year, ranking 36th among the world’s 80 non-English speaking countries and regions.

– When it comes to UK educators learning from China, it seems Maths is their favourite subject. In 2017 teaching materials for the popular Shanghai maths method were rolled out across some UK schools, and some UK maths teachers have already taken part in an exchange programme to visit China.

– The number of UK secondary school pupils learning Mandarin has also been on the up, with the British Council predicting that 5,000 students between the ages of 11 and 16 will be on track towards fluency in Chinese by 2020.

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