Young Academic has discovered that Universities have experienced an unprecedented rise in the numbers of Chinese students coming to the United Kingdom 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.
In enthralling student news, analysis of new data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that over the last five years UK universities have experienced an astonishing rise of 150% in Chinese students coming 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, in London 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 London celebrates its own 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 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.
‘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 at London universities 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 has been a similar percentage increase with a total of nearly 4,000 Chinese students studying creative arts
The University of the Arts London, which includes the Central St Martins School of Arts and Design and London School of Fashion, has witnessed over 100 per cent increase in the number of Chinese students enrolling over the last five years. Chinese students who have gone to establish themselves include Grace Lam Style Editor at Vogue China, artist O Zhang and fashion designers Joanna Ho and Chris Liu.
Among the London alumni showcasing at 180 The Strand this week is Yang Du who completed an MA in Fashion Design at UAL and has worked with John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and Giles Deacon. She created her own label which went on to be stocked in Selfridges and her clothes have been worn by Daisy Lowe, Alexa Chung and Paloma Faith.
Other designers at the China showcase include Octavia Yang, who won the Swarovski Award of International Talent Support in Italy, and has worked for Swarovski, Dior and Alexander McQueen and is gaining a reputation for contemporary jewellery design.
Many have won prestigious industry awards and Xiao Li, Min Xing, Yushan Xue Li, Min Wu and Tianmo Wang are currently studying or have set up their own labels.
Octavia said: “London is the perfect stage to make your dream a reality. There are some of the best universities in the world, the city encourages creativity and is a world centre for fashion and design. There are so many opportunities here and you have all the access to the resources you need to be successful.”
Vicky Richardson, The British Council’s Director of Architecture, Design and Fashion added: ‘More than 120 young designers from around the world are coming to London to present their work as part of the International Fashion Showcase, which celebrates London’s position as an international fashion city.
‘The arts are a valuable route to understanding cultures and societies and offer a unique way of interacting across these boundaries.”
London & Partners recently launched studylondon.cn a website in Mandarin to help inform prospective Chinese students about the city.