Vacuum Designer James Dyson: Chinese Students Steal Secrets from UK Schools

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Sir James Dyson attends the Brit Insurance Design Awards dinner at the Design Museum on March 18, 2008 in London, England.

Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

James Dyson, the designer that brought us the bag-free vacuum cleaner, is enraged the leak of technology from Britain’s best universities.

But what is he claiming, exactly? Dyson said that Chinese postgraduates enrolled in UK schools use the opportunity to perpetrate acts of industrial espionage.

“They go back home taking that science and technology knowledge with them, and then they start competing with us,” he told the Sunday Times.

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He also claimed to have evidence that such students plant bugs in university computers and networks that keep sending information even after the students left. Authorities are investigating his allegations.

The allegations are not new; in fact, universities are well-aware of the risk they run and the claim they are taking measures to counter it. “We are very aware this is going on and we are taking it very seriously,” said Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, a non profit membership organization whose members are executives of, well, UK universities and colleges of higher education. The threat affects mostly technical¬†colleges.

The Times reports that there are almost 57,000 Chinese students in the United Kingdom, and they are one of the fastest-growing group of foreign students, growing 21% from 2009 alone, although figures vary. Educational institutions are certainly happy getting more tuition money, and a thriving international community is essential for the quality of the intellectual life of any leading research institution.

Dyson is not against having Chinese students in universities, having recently complained rather vocally about the new student visa restrictions in UK, calling it “sheer madness.” As it happens, Dyson is not new to using strong words. (via Shanghaiist)

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