No Limit On Chinese Students Studying In UK, Says George Osborne

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There is no limit on the number of Chinese students who can come to Britain, George Osborne has said, amid concerns international students are being deterred.

The Chancellor, who is leading a trade mission in China, told students in Beijing he wanted "more of you to come [to Britain]".

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Osborne said he wanted to make it clear to the whole of China that there is no limit on trade with Britain or the number of Chinese people who can come to study or visit. His comments come amid numerous concerns international studnets are being deterred from studying in the UK due to recent immigration reforms.

Recently, the National Union of Students warned overseas students were being treated as "cash cows" as many were being charged up to four times as much for degree courses than pupils from the UK.

A real dialogue between the two nations, Osborne said, is about learning, understanding and "embracing the future together", as he announced a partnership between Peking University, where he spoke, and Manchester University to create a joint centre for genomic medicine.

boris johnson

George Osborne and London's Mayor Boris Johnson visit Peking University in Beijing

While acknowledging that "we should not be afraid of pointing out where we disagree", Mr Osborne said the West should not harbour "outdated" and "nervous" views and also welcomed Chinese investment in critical infrastructure such as water and airports.

Osborne said: "This partnership will - I hope - give even more of you the chance to come to Britain and study there.

"We already have 130,000 Chinese students like you studying in Britain.

"I want more of you to come. And more Chinese visitors too.

"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.

"No limit to the number of Chinese tourists who can visit.

"No limit on the amount of business we can do together. For in the end what is a true dialogue?

"Not just a meeting between governments. Not just a conference of politicians.

"A real dialogue is where people get together, and talk, and learn, and understand and embrace the future together."

Osborne's push came a day after he announced a relaxation of the visa rules for Chinese nationals - amid complaints the current regime is a deterrent to more high-spending visitors coming to the UK.

Boris Johnson, who shared a platform with the Chancellor, reiterated his desire for more two-way traffic, with more Chinese students coming to the UK but also more British people studying in China.

True to form, the Mayor of London jovially concluded that fictional wizard Harry Potter's first kiss with Chinese Hogwarts student Cho Chang illustrated the future for the capital and Britain.

Mr Johnson said: "I very much hope that this will continue to grow and intensify in the years ahead so that we see more trade and investment but also so that it becomes as regular for British students to come and pursue their studies in China as it is for Chinese students to come to London."

He went on: "And if you want one final proof of how fast the world is changing, the cultural interpenetration between Britain and China, let me ask you a question, brilliant students of Peking University.

"Who in English literature is the most famous student? Who is the most famous student in contemporary British writing, would you say? I will give you a clue - he sometimes has a wand... Harry Potter."

He then quizzed students: "Where does the train go from which Harry Potter has to catch to go to his school? King's Cross, absolutely right, which is where? London.

"Where does Harry Potter buy his uniform and his wand and stuff like that and his books? I think it's in Diagon Alley which is in London.

"Where is the location of the Ministry of Magic? London.

"And who according to JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels, was Harry Potter's first girlfriend? Who is the first person he kisses? That's right, Cho Chang - who is a Chinese overseas student at Hogwarts school.

"Ladies and gents I rest my case. I don't think I need to argue any further, that is the future of Britain and of London."

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George Osborne: No limit on Chinese visitors to Britain