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Universities teach and research, but what impact do they have on society? Ahead of a related policy dialogue in Guangzhou, China, on 12 July, the British Council's Caroline Chipperfield explains how more and more higher education institutions are becoming an integral part of their local communities.

How important are intercultural skills and proficiency in foreign languages to compete in the modern world? An essay competition, sponsored by Generation UK, invited UK students to tackle the question: How can our education better prepare us to compete in an increasingly globalised world? Read extracts from the winning essays below. The winners will participate in our UK-China Student Forum at Tsinghua University on

If China is to remain economically competitive, it needs to move away from its current strength of absorbing foreign inventions, argues the British Council's Jeremy Chan. Ahead of his session for education professionals in London on 12 February, he asks what becoming an innovating nation again might cost China and where the opportunities for UK universities

UK schools traditionally teach European languages, but with several current government initiatives attempting to also connect the UK better with China, the British Council's Vicky Gough answers how UK schools can help their students pick up Mandarin Chinese.

The government, business leaders and probably your parents (if you're at school) will tell you it's good to learn Mandarin Chinese, but the language's reputation as impossible may make you balk at the challenge. Weicong Liang, Chinese Instructor and Teaching Supervisor at the Business Confucius Institute, University of Leeds, demystifies.

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