Noted English industrial designer, Sir James Dyson has accused a section of Chinese students studying in the United Kingdom of infiltrating universities in order to steal intellectual property and technology inventions.
He said that some Chinese citizens enrol in universities as students and then use the opportunity to steal industrial secrets or inventions, and even wire the campuses such that the intellectual pilferage continues even after these individuals have graduated. Electronic engineering and computer sciences are the two disciplines that are suspected to be the most targeted by these students.
They go back home taking that science and technology knowledge with them and then they start competing with us, Dyson told The Sunday Times. He even hinted that foreign states and companies could be behind this and said that it was disheartening to see the universities and research posts being used this way.
According to available statistics, nearly 57,000 Chinese now study in the UK with more than 4500 in disciplines such as electronic engineering and computer sciences.
Dyson's claim seems to have tacit support from British authorities, with Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, claiming cognizance of such goings-on. Universities minister David Willetts also said that they would be seriously inspecting the evidence that Dyson claims to have.
However Sir James, while claiming that Britain is effectively educating its competitors by hosting so many foreign students, is also known to be vocal against the recent student immigration rules that are expected to cut the number of foreign students in the country.
Last week Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled plans that could cut the number of foreign students and their dependants coming to Britain by around 100,000 a year. She also imposed strict restrictions on the time that such students could spend in the country before and after their studies.
Following these announcements, the designer, who heads an innovation taskforce for Prime Minister Cameron, told BBC Radio 4's The World this Weekend, I think it is sheer madness to be effectively chucking out graduates who we desperately need. I am afraid what it will end up doing is driving firms like us abroad because we simply can't get people to do our research and development.