Sir James Dyson, inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, has warned that Chinese students are spying on British universities to steal technological secrets, and have even planted software bugs that continue relaying the information to China long after they have graduated.
Here are a few gems that he said (from The Times via The Australian):
“Britain is very proud about the number of foreign students we educate at our universities, but actually all we are doing is educating our competitors.”
“Foreign governments and businesses are prepared to pay quite a lot of money for people to study at Cambridge, Imperial College and other Russell [Group] universities because they appreciate the value of these research posts.”
“They go back home taking that science and technology knowledge with them and then they start competing with us. This is mad – it is madness.”
“I’ve seen frightening examples. Bugs are even left in computers so that the information continues to be transmitted after the researchers have returned home.”
“As an exporter and someone developing technology here, it’s very disheartening to see these universities being used by foreign countries and foreign companies.”
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said she is aware of the threat of espionage from Chinese students, while David Willetts, the universities minister, promised to “study very carefully the evidence that James Dyson has got.”
Just days before Dyson voiced his opinions, Theresa May, the home secretary, announced plans to slash the number of foreign students in Britain. Now who’s going to fund UK universities next, you wonder?