Press release

Chinese students to help UK businesses

Chinese-speaking students are to be placed with UK companies to help them break into the Chinese market or find new investment.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Chinese-speaking students are to be placed with UK companies to help them break into the Chinese market or find new investment, Trade Minister Lord Livingston announced today (25 November 2014).

The GREAT Ambassadors scheme is a pilot programme which will be run by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the University of Sheffield to provide valuable and cost-effective access to Chinese language, cultural and business knowledge.

China has been chosen as the target market for the pilot as their import demand is expected to dwarf all the other emerging powers, rising by $3.4 trillion between 2010 and 2020. China is also expected to invest $1.25 trillion overseas in the next decade.

China has more students studying in the UK than any other overseas group, with more than 70,000 according to the most recent figures.

Trade Minister Lord Livingston said:

China offers great opportunities for UK companies of all sizes, with growing demand for brand Britain. Chinese-speaking students can help UK businesses to overcome the linguistic and cultural barriers that could stand between them and the Chinese market.

Contact UKTI to find out how they can help you with your export ambitions in China and beyond.

Lord Livingston launched the scheme at the University of Sheffield to an audience of businesses who have already signed up to the scheme.

This includes Chatsworth House which featured in Pride and Prejudice and has a large number of Chinese visitors each year; Gripple which is looking to export their fasteners to Chinese vineyards; and New Era Development which is creating a China town in Sheffield.

The University of Sheffield was chosen for the programme as it has one of the largest Chinese student populations in the UK as well as one of the largest and most established schools of East Asian Studies in the UK.

Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Sheffield Paul White said:

I am delighted that the University of Sheffield has been chosen to be the host institution for the Great Ambassadors China pilot project and am looking forward to watching the scheme grow.

The project will not only provide a wide range of long term benefits for our students who will be getting the very best foundations to their future careers, but it will also have a lasting impact on the businesses involved.

This scheme gives our Chinese-speaking students the unique opportunity to acquire valuable employability skills with innovative companies who are looking to develop and expand their trade links with China.

If successful, the scheme may be rolled out to other universities wishing to take part and trialled with other major non-EU international student groups such as India or Malaysia.

Interns will undertake a range of projects including:

  • helping companies establish online Chinese presence for example on Tmall – China’s equivalent to eBay
  • help market the company via Chinese social media channels such as Weibo (Chinese equivalent to Twitter)
  • liaising with Chinese distributors
  • provide advice and support on Chinese business culture and etiquette
  • helping companies develop a Chinese version of their brand
  • support company representatives on market visits to China
  • identify ways to cater for growing numbers of Chinese tourists such as menus and signage

Companies wishing to participate in the programme should contact Yiyun Ling ( at the University of Sheffield or visit the University of Sheffield website.

Notes to editors

  1. The GREAT Ambassadors scheme was originally announced alongside the Prime Minister’s visit to China in December 2013.
  2. The pilot programme will operate for one academic year (2014 to 2015).
  3. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. It also helps overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. It provides companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage.
  4. The University of Sheffield: With almost 26,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities. A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields. Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Published 25 November 2014