Monday 17 February 2014

Universities have experienced an unprecedented rise in the numbers of Chinese students coming to London to study fashion and design, with many going on to work for some of the world’s best known fashion houses or setting up their own brand labels.

Analysis of new data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that over the last five years London universities have experienced an astonishing rise of over 150% in Chinese students coming to the city to study creative arts and design.

Business studies still remains the most popular subject that draws exceptional Chinese students to world class centres of learning like the London School of Economics and Political Science.

However, the creative arts have now overtaken more traditional subjects like engineering, technology and mathematics to become the second most popular course studied by Chinese scholars.

Now, many of these students are setting up businesses, creating their own labels and going on to work for some of Britain’s and the world’s top labels including Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Swarovski and Dior.

This week as the city celebrates London Fashion Week at Somerset House on The Strand, a few doors down the road 14 countries are displaying the best of their emerging talent at the British Council’s International Fashion Showcase 2014.

Young designers from across the world are trying to make their impression on the London fashion scene.

The Chinese showcase features some of the country’s best talent  with seven having  studied at the University of the Arts London (UAL) which can boast names like Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Jimmy Choo among its world famous alumni.

The Chinese exhibition is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s book Alice in Wonderland and features an array of mesmerising designs, while 3D video mapping and a themed projection guides visitors through an immersive journey in Wonderland.

Kevin McCarthy, Head of Education and Culture at London Partners, the city’s not-for-profit promotional organisation, said: “In the last 10 years we have seen a consistent rise in Chinese students studying at London’s top universities. 

‘The number of Chinese studying ‘arts and design’ has risen a staggering 158%, over the last five years, with the UAL, which encompasses six top art schools, experiencing extremely large rises.

‘This is really interesting and it indicates that Chinese students are broadening their course choice from traditional subject areas like business and engineering towards the creative arts subjects.

‘London can capitalise on this because we have such a large creative economy and lead the world in design, fashion, music and film.’

Chinese students now make up the biggest group of international students in London, followed by those from USA and India.

Over the last five years, as the Chinese economy has boomed and their businesses have invested in large redevelopments in the capital, the numbers of students has risen 60% to over 12,000.

According to official data recently released by HESA all subject areas have seen significant increases. The most popular subject for Chinese students in London is business studies, where numbers have increased nearly 50% to just under 4,000 over the last five years.

Engineering, technology, computers and mathematics have also seen healthy increases.

However, the second most popular subject for Chinese students is creative arts and design, up to nearly 1600 students and a percentage rise of 158% over the last five years. UK wide there is now a total of nearly 4,000 Chinese students studying creative arts.

London Partners recently launched a website in Mandarin to help inform prospective Chinese students about the city.

Notes to Editors

About London Partners

London Partners is the official promotional organisation for London. Our company attracts and delivers value to business, students and visitors. London Partners is a not-for-profit public private partnership, funded by the Mayor of London and a network of commercial partners.

Our remit is to drive leisure and business visitors as well as bidding to secure major events in London, to unlock the city for overseas businesses who want to set up or expand in London and to promote the capital’s world class universities to international students.

Visit or the official London study guide. was launched by the Mayor of London in Beijing in October 2013, the website and weibo account provides practical information on studying in London as well listings for all London’s 45+ universities and information on the range of courses they offer. also contains up-to-date guides on London’s museums, restaurants, shops, etc, that are helpful to both prospective Chinese students and their visiting family.

Approximately 105,000 students from 222 countries come to study in London contributing £2.5 billion to the city’s economy. London welcomes more international students than any other city in the world.London’s creative industry is the capital’s second largest sector, behind financial services, and is worth over £20 billion per year.

Fashion directly contributes £21 billion to the UK economy.  It also has a further indirect economic impact of £16 billion. This is twice the size of publishing, car manufacturing or chemical manufacturing .
Around 400,000 people work in London’s creative industries, equating to 1 in 8 people.


London Partners Media PR Manager (FDI) Norval Scott on +44 (0) 7527 286 552 or 020 7234 5789 or email