THE number of students from China coming to Sheffield University to study has more than tripled in four years - with over 2,000 currently taking degree courses.
The city has become one of the most popular student destinations in the UK for undergraduates from the Far Eastern superpower, which is undergoing an unprecedented economic boom.
And around West Street and London Road, new oriental supermarkets, karaoke clubs and restaurants are springing up to cater for them.
This year’s student admissions figure of 2,124 compares with just 733 in 2007.
The number has steadily increased each year in between.
The most popular subjects for Chinese students are engineering, management and economics - but they are left with a hefty bill for their studies.
While English students will pay annual fees of £9,000 from next September, Chinese students face charges of almost £16,000 for engineering courses, while medicine and dentistry degrees cost £28,650 a year.
Arts, law and social sciences courses cost them over £12,000.
Rebecca Hughes, the university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for international recruitment, said universities across the country - but especially Sheffield - are admitting more Chinese students.
“Sheffield has become one of the leading destinations as it is one of the top 100 in the world, and Russell Group universities in the UK have developed something of a cachet in China,” she said.
“They are also aware that Sheffield is a very welcoming city and there is already a well established Chinese community here.”
The university is keen to develop its links with the country, such as those already in place with the Sino-British College in Shanghai, and is involved in exhibitions staged by the British Council.
“Students coming here are a huge asset, and it is true they are paying high fees,” Rebecca said.
“They tend to come from good backgrounds, as families invest their savings in paying for a good UK education for their offspring.
“But they provide a big boost for Sheffield too - they come here, spend a great deal of money, and then go home.”
Sheffield International College helps the newcomers settle in, with advice on issues such as banks, mobile phones and social events.
Rebecca admitted: “They do tend to stick together a lot, and we are trying to make sure they get more involved in the community, such as through voluntary work. As for future admissions I can certainly see the trend continuing - as the Chinese economy continues to mature students will come here, as there simply aren’t enough quality universities in their homeland.”
n ‘It’s a status thing’ - meet the Chinese scholars studying in Sheffield, in The Star tomorrow.