THE boss of a language school based in Portsmouth is following in the Prime Minister’s footsteps by embarking on a trade mission to China.
Neil Pick, chief executive of Tellus Group, hopes this first in a series of planned visits to the Far East will bring a £1m boost to Portsmouth by encouraging more students to study in the city.
The Tellus Group runs the Meridian School of English, based at the Guildhall in Southsea and in Plymouth, and has been established over the past decade.
Mr Pick said the world’s second biggest economy represents a major business opportunity, and his firm is one among many city businesses casting their eyes to the Far East.
He added: ‘Meridian mostly hosts European learners, and has only brought 30 Chinese students to Portsmouth this year. China is way down the list in terms of the number of people coming here to learn English.
‘But China’s 1.6bn population is a target and with the Chinese economy growing, it’s going to be a main market for our business.’
Tellus Group is looking to encourage ‘hundreds’ of students to visit Portsmouth by 2016. Meridian School of English has engaged Xia Yu, an ex-Plymouth University student, to represent the organisation in China.
She officially works for the China British Business Council, though will be promoting study in Portsmouth and securing investment for the city.
Mr Pick added: ‘I am visiting three Chinese cities with Xia in 10 days, meeting about 70 agents who recruit students for language programmes in the UK.
‘I’m then staying another three weeks to visit existing partners in various cities across China, and including the education department in Yunnan province.
‘This is a trial, and I’ll probably be going to China twice in 2014.’
David Cameron has promised to create a ‘partnership for growth and reform’ as he visits China on a trade mission with more than 120 UK business leaders.