British university helps Chinese students tackle challenges of studying abroad

29 March 2018

Gavin Tan, the International Regional Manager (East and South East Asia) of the University of Hertfordshire (UH), a British university near London, has advised Chinese students to be more open when they embark on academic years on foreign campuses.

"We encourage our Chinese students to be brave to speak English, never mind the grammatical mistakes, ignoring them and communicating more often, then they will soon settle down," Tan suggested in an interview with

Being a British-Chinese person himself, Tan is perceptive of the changing personalities of overseas Chinese students across different generations.

According to Tan, unlike their predecessors, Chinese students who come from single-child families where they have been looked after by six adults (parents and grandparents) may consider life in a foreign environment a big challenge.

"Excessive love from the parental or grand-parental generations, such as never asking their children to wash dishes, year after year will affect the children's capabilities to lead independent lives, especially when they are sharing dormitories with other students on overseas campuses," Tan explained.

In addition to being outspoken and independent, he also advised Chinese students not to show off their wealth.

During several seminars that Tan held to foster understanding between Chinese and local students, many British students expressed that the flamboyant and expensive apparel of Chinese students often makes them uneasy.

Therefore, Tan counselled the young Chinese to live a low-key lifestyle, which he said is conducive both to making friends and to avoiding potential criminals.

With more than 400 Chinese students recruited last year, UH is targeting a growth of 20 percent this year.

According to Tan, the university is competitive in their use of practice-oriented pedagogic curriculum, high employment rate and low crime incidence.

The university has partnered with the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission as well as China's prestigious Fudan University on a doctorate program.

To attract more Chinese students, UH is also setting up an independent language test equivalent to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), so that the students who miss their chance to attempt the IELTS may still have the opportunity to attend the school.

Mimi Tessier, associate dean of the International School of Humanities of UH said that Chinese students may find limited choices since there are too few IELTS centres in China. Therefore, the UH offers them an automatic language testing system that can be booked in regional offices of the university in China.

According to Tessier, the language testing system is exactly equivalent to IELTS and benchmarked by the European training standards. The key difference, she said, is "Whereas IELTS is based on general language skills, our test more defines university skills and drafts the key information to the kind of undergraduate or postgraduate skills that are necessary."

Date: 2018-03-27

Article has been reproduced, this was originally featured in EBeijing.


Brad Johnson +44 (0)1707 281249