Growing demand for British university education in China

Students in atrium
10 Aug 2011 16:41:00.000


A record number of students have applied to study at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) this year.

Applications and new starter numbers are both up by 16 per cent on last year, as total student numbers at UNNC move towards 5,000 for the first time.

With stiff competition for places, the minimum exam scores required for entrance have also risen sharply.

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This means it is mostly only the highest-achieving school leavers who made the grade this year for undergraduate studies at the University, which is situated in the thriving coastal city of Ningbo, south of Shanghai.

UNNC is a unique international university in China. It was the first Sino-foreign university to open its doors in China in 2004, with all degree programmes taught in English. Students receive a British-style education and UK degrees from The University of Nottingham.

Also significant this year is the huge leap in students applying for engineering degree programmes, with almost double last year’s number signing up for courses. International student numbers are on the rise, with a record number of applicants from Indonesia, Mauritius and Thailand.

UNNC has a student population of 5,000 across its three faculties: Science and Engineering; Arts and Humanities; and Social Sciences, which includes business and economics schools. It has a new Graduate School which is currently offering at least 15 PhD scholarships across all faculties.

More than 1,400 students from 29 provinces around China have been offered first year places for undergraduate degree programmes for the 2011/2012 academic year, which starts in September. Places are still available for international and postgraduate students.

Marina Chen, Director of Recruitment and Admissions at UNNC, said: “This year we have attracted more applicants than ever. And, although we only ever accept the brightest, the applicants this year have been of a higher calibre overall when you look at the gaokao [college entrance exam] scores.

“We are particularly delighted that we have seen a big increase in the number of applicants to our engineering degree programmes.

“We have expanded the range of courses on offer to cater for growing demand for all types of engineers and have changed the system so that students can decide on their area of specialisation in engineering after their preliminary year when they have a better understanding of where their interests lie.”

Last year 1,223 Chinese high school graduates registered their interest in enrolling for degree courses at UNNC, with 1,195 joining us as first-year students. This year the University expects at least 1,385 of the 1,418 applicants to start in the autumn as new undergraduates.

Undergraduate degrees for engineers include: chemical; civil; environmental; electrical and electronic, mechanical; product design and manufacture. A Master of Science in geodesy and surveying engineering and research masters’ programmes are available as are degrees in architectural environment engineering and architecture.

Ms Chen noted that the popularity of engineering courses has resulted in a higher number of male students applying to the university this year than usual.

The University is increasingly becoming first choice for students who want an international education in China, said Chen of the increase in applications.

“Many Chinese parents believe that a Chinese education doesn’t really cultivate their children to the level required to meet the challenges of internationalisation in China,” said Chen.

“They want their children to study overseas but the language is a concern. They would also prefer not to send their only children to the other side of the globe until they have had time to adapt to a new environment and independent living,” she said.

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China provides a preliminary first year aimed at honing students’ English skills so that they can thrive in their university studies and it also offers a range of programmes that include periods of exchange of up to two years at the University in Nottingham, UK.

It is an attractive choice for students who want the benefits and experience of a British education while living in China, but who do not want to spend their entire degree programmes far from home, said Chen.

All degrees are University of Nottingham UK degrees, so students from other countries find it appealing to study for a British degree from the vantage point of China, which is undoubtedly the world’s most exciting economy and a vibrant living environment, she added.

Professor Sam Shen, Registrar at UNNC, said: “There are many reasons our applications are higher than ever this year, not least of all the excellent track record our students have in securing employment within months after graduation. Our graduates are in demand among employers looking for sharp, talented young people with the ability to hit the ground running when they start work.”

He said the University was increasingly in the public spotlight as a result of its teaching excellence as well as major achievements in advancing knowledge in its laboratories.

Earlier this year UNNC was paid a visit by China’s Premier Wen Jiabao, who wanted to see for himself this unique, pioneering university.

Premier Wen’s surprise tour of the campus attracted widespread media attention and was followed by a visit from China Education TV for an influential programme aimed at giving independent advice to students deciding on their higher education paths.

— Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China was opened in 2004 with the Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, Professor Yang Fujia, as its founding President.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More information about degree programmes at:

Story credits

For more information, or pictures of students, please contact: Marina Chen, Director of Recruitment and Admissions, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, on + 86 (0)574 8818 0162,; Professor Sam Shen, Registrar, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China,; Jackie Hadland, Communications Officer, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China on +86 (0) 574 8818 0940, +86-134 2935 5876,

Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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