Art students from mainland China have a reputation for hard work and skilful techniques, but should have more confidence and take more risks, says a deputy vice-chancellor of a leading arts university in Europe. “They are a little bit less confident because they always fear they will be examined on the quality of their works and compared with their masters,” said Professor Chris Wainwright, of the University of the Arts London (UAL). “But when they relax and get more confidence, they make fantastic work.” Chinese education, which puts greater emphasis on scores and tests, is often criticised for ignoring creativity, but Professor Wainwright said it was the way of thinking, rather than the quality of the education, that should be questioned. READ MORE: China artists work up-close with old masters in Madrid “The systems of learning in the UK and Europe are very different – students are encouraged to take more risks,” Wainwright said. “I always try to ask Chinese students to relax a bit and be more experimental. If they don’t produce a perfect [piece] but some interesting ideas, we can help them to develop those [ideas].” Thanks to years of economic development, China’s creative industry has been growing fast in the past years – numerous theatres, art centres and design zones have been erected across the country, and the government is now turning its attention to the creative and innovation industries in an effort to restructure its economy amid concerns of an economic slowdown. As China promotes its role in the creative industry, Wainwright said the public needed to be made aware of the economic value of the industry, such as the jobs and wealth it creates. “So people can understand when they are engaging in culture, they are also engaging with the economy. That kind of information is very important to ensure people’s support.” Wainwright was in Beijing for an exhibition of European theatre design that his university is hosting in collaboration with the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), one of the country’s grandest theatres. The exhibition runs until October 24 at the NCPA. Wainwright said to be internationally competitive, Chinese students and designers should be more cross-disciplinary. “People in China usually work in a specific area, and they are very skilled and individual in the way of working,” he said. “Modern designers can work across different art forms, because their thinking is conceptually formed, not materially formed, and that’s the kind of thing that characterises education in Europe and the UK. The arts in China have different doors and different disciplines, and that’s I think something we can make it a little bit more free-flowing Professor Chris Wainwright, UAL “The arts in China have different doors and different disciplines, and that’s I think something we can make it a little bit more free-flowing.” As Europe’s largest university for art, design, and fashion, as well the alma mater of Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo, UAL is experiencing a growing interest from mainland arts students, who must pay much higher fees than local students. Enrolment from mainland China for its postgraduate programme more than doubled from 196 in 2010 to 444 last year, but Wainwright insisted that quality remained the criteria in selecting students. Chinese students are the largest group of international students in the university – with 1,538 last year, while 4,000 graduates are now working and living in China, which is home to the university’s largest alumni community outside Britain.