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Chinese students at the University of Birmingham can now enjoy a taste of home – thanks to a new menu developed by a well-travelled catering manager who flew more than 5,000 miles for inspiration.

Students at the Birmingham Business School can now choose lunch from a range of authentic Chinese food. And with menus written in Chinese and English, the new food range is helping students from China settle into University life a little faster.

Louise Sherratt, pictured above, recently joined a group of UK university catering and hospitality managers on an 11-day study tour of China. The visit inspired her to introduce a Chinese street food broth concept at the food outlet in the Gisbert Kapp building. There are also plans to start a Chinese focus group to explore new horizons in catering at Birmingham.


The Catering Operations Manager said: “Travelling to China confounded my expectations, not least in the variety of different styles of cooking. Insights gained on the tour will prove invaluable as the University of Birmingham looks at the way it caters for Chinese students and attempts to give them an authentic taste of home.

“Through visiting universities in China, we learned a fantastic amount. The key thing is to take a dish and cook it spot on, make it exactly the way Chinese people like it. We have got to consider what ingredients we are using.  Authenticity is everything; the challenge now is how we replicate that.”

On a busy day, the University of Birmingham might serve 14,000 students, staff and visitors at lunchtime across its 28 food outlets. With many Chinese students at the University, the new lunchtime food offering is proving popular. Gisbert Kapp catering staff Karen McPherson and Lilian McWilliam are pictured above, preparing to serve Chinese street food to students.


Louise explained that small things could make a big difference in making overseas students feel at home in Birmingham - for example that Chinese people like drinking warm or tepid water rather than cold water from a refrigerator.

“It’s amazing to think that, despite being a default meal for many UK students, many Chinese people arriving at Birmingham would never have eaten a sandwich in their lives,” she added.

Organised by The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO), the trip included visits to five diverse universities to examine their food offering to students. The tour took in Beijing and the southern cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

There are eight main regional cuisines in China and delegates sampled everything from freshly-cooked sashimi-style yellow trout and braised sturgeon to congee (rice porridge.)

In the majority of universities visited, meals are served in traditional dining halls. University catering is heavily subsidised by the state and, unlike in the UK, there is no imperative for university catering operations to generate profits. There are no tuition fees and each undergraduate receives a £15 monthly allowance from the state.


Notes to Editors 

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • Birmingham Business School is a dynamic, internationally-focused school offering undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across the full range of business disciplines. Its academic staff are renowned for world-class research and excellence in teaching. 

For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or  +44 (0)782 783 2312 or