Education demand in China has spawned global business opportunities for tutors, online courses, agents and even boarding schools. As a result, there is huge demand for British private school brands in China.
After a number of private schools, including Harrow, Dulwich College, Malvern and Wellington College, launched schools in China, Westminster School, a leading independent and boarding school in the UK, is to set up six schools in China, which will be one of the biggest expansions of a UK school brand into the Chinese education market, the first will open in Chengdu, capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, in 2020.
With origins before the 12th century, Westminster School is one of the top and oldest private schools in the UK, located within the precincts of Westminster Abbey, London, England. The school is also one of the most expensive schools in the UK. From 2002 to 2006, Westminster School has achieved the highest percentage of students accepted by Oxford and Cambridge colleges.
The Guardian described Westminster School's move as a "soft power" initiative that would help to fund a bursary scheme. The income from this international partnership can afford all talented students entering the school in London who need financial support.
The partnership with China is also a chance to deepen the cultural collaboration between two countries. "The reason for opening the schools is that we are quite excited about being able to influence education of Chinese pupils in China," the spokesperson said.
Since educational authorities in China have a strict control on younger children studying overseas curriculum, the new Chinese school will teach China's national curriculum to 6-to-15-year-olds. Students between the ages of 16-18 will be able to study the English national curriculum.
Besides, Nick Gibb, the school standards minister, has been encouraging more UK pupils to learn Mandarin Chinese, which he thinks is the most spoken language in the world.
As estimated by Financial Times, British private schools have set up 44 overseas campuses, educating around 25,000 pupils in total. In China, there are over 20 branches operated by the British educational institution including primary schools, high schools and universities. Besides, growing numbers of young wealthy parents are willing to send their kids aboard to receive the truly aristocratic education at the cost of around 50,000 pounds per year at least, which is 20 times the amount for a public school in China.