British Council

This is a scheme which empowers our students to make the best of the networks that they have, to understand what it takes to interact effectively with people who are brought up in cultures and societies that are different from their own.

Stephen Shute, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Sussex


Life cycle





Department for Education (DfE), plus the four devolved UK administrations


To develop a generation of young people who can drive forward the UK’s bilateral relationship with China through outward mobility opportunities.


As the world continues to internationalise, more needs to be done to ensure that UK graduates are able to understand and be business leaders of the future in an increasingly globalised labour market. China is becoming an important player in the world economy and one that is of high strategic interest to the UK in a post-Brexit era. In this context, helping young generations to gain experience of China and improve their cultural fluency is an excellent investment in the future. The campaign is developing a future workforce that is internationally competitive and China-ready, contributing to the prosperity and competitiveness of the UK economy. 


The campaign has an expanding number of opportunities for UK students to experience, understand and engage with China through funded internships and scholarships for academic study This enhances their employability and skills which are highly valued by employers both at home and abroad.

In addition to our partnerships with a wide range of UK and Chinese universities, we have assisted in developing bespoke programmes to help businesses support their young talent and future leaders to engage with and understand China. 

We have also created a network of programme alumni, as well as wider young and experienced professionals in China-related fields. The network provides a platform for individuals to connect and ensures ongoing engagement with China.


More than 55,000 young people from the UK have participated in study, internship and teaching programmes across China since the launch of Generation UK. It is the most significant student mobility campaign of its type beyond the EU. 

In 2018, approximately 15,000 young British nationals gained experience in China. By 2020, Generation UK aimed to help 80,000 students from the UK boost their employability, enhance their long-term job prospects, and develop a global mindset.

Supporting social mobility is a key focus of the campaign: there is a strong uptake among students from low-income households (79 per cent), first-generation scholars (40 per cent), and BAME (34 per cent) backgrounds.

Generation UK has also developed bespoke partnerships with several UK higher education institutions to support their wider internationalisation strategies, whereby 500 UK students have been supported through these partnerships to date. 

Learnings from other mobility projects have led to using multiple local delivery partners on the ground (instead of just one) to make our programme more effective, sustainable and resourceful.

Mutual benefit

Generation UK directly advances the UK government’s commitment to an international Britain and is supported by all four UK administrations. By encouraging UK students to engage with China, Generation UK aims to bring young people from both countries closer together, increase mutual understanding, and pave the way to lasting links and partnerships between the UK and China.

Through working directly with Chinese institutions and organisations, such as the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), this programme also supports China’s ambitious targets to internationalise higher education and to learn from the UK’s experience in hosting international students; creating a more favourable environment for UK students in China in the long-term.