Chinese investment helps to reopen 400-year-old UK school

Updated 2017-05-25 15:00:31

After property, soccer and infrastructure, Chinese investors have another target in the UK: schools.

A 432-year-old boarding school, which temporarily closed due to falling student numbers, announced it will reopen in September 2018 after a Chinese education group pumped financial support into the cash-strapped school.

St Bees School in Western Cumbia, still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis, was forced to shut its doors in 2015.

The school's board of trustees formed a partnership with Shenzhen-based Full Circle Education on March 20, the UK-Chinese Times, a London-based Chinese-language newspaper reported.

The traditionally boys private school has been struggling with transition to a co-ed system, said Mark George, chairman of the board of trustees, at the school's open day on April 22.

The investment came amid a rapid inflow of young Chinese students seeking boarding schools. Expensive boarding schools are often popular choices among Chinese parents who want their children to get a head start in elite education.

The St Bees website shows that full boarding fees were £6,475-£9,985 (,411 to ,971) per term for the 2013-14 academic year, which had three terms.

An annual report released by the UK Independent Schools Council earlier this year showed that nearly three out of every 100 students in the UK were from the Chinese mainland or Hong Kong.

Full Circle Education is not the only Chinese corporation jumping onto the bandwagon of investing in the UK's education sector.

Chase Grammar School was bought by Chinese company Achieve Education in 2014.

The Staffordshire-based school, which charges £36,600 (,547) a year for full boarding, has 300 pupils, with 40 of them from China.

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