Number of British schools in China set to double in 2019
Jiangxi, china-March 4, 2014: On the playground, ready to participate in the collective activities of the Chinese primary school students . Source: Shutterstock

A ‘second wave’ of international and private schools are sweeping China in 2019, and it is predicted that the numbers could potentially more than double.

There is already a large number of international and private schools in China. British schools, however, take up the bulk. In 2018,  British schools accounted for more than half of 821 schools in China for the first time.

It has been reported that there will be approximately 46 British-based schools in China by the end of 2019, more than double that of two years ago.

Students of Wellington College, Tianjin. Source: The PIE News

Last year, a record five schools opened their first international campus in China, and this year nine more are expected to open.

Several are located in Beijing and Shanghai, but a growing number are in smaller cities like Guangzhou and Chongqing, where companies like Venture Education will be expanding.

The demand for British-run education in China has surged in the past few years, largely due to the rise of wealthy and educated families in the country.

These parents want their children to receive a British-based education so they can attend top-tier universities abroad like Harvard or Oxford.

Chinese students are attending UK universities in record numbers. UK higher education statistics for 2016-2017 showed that the number of Chinese students in UK universities more than doubled in a decade, and the numbers are expected to rise in coming years.

It represents a chance for students to escape China’s notoriously competitive and difficult entrance examinations, as well as the rigorous national school curriculum.

Last year, Merchiston International School (MIS) a top-ranked independent school in Edinburgh, Scotland, opened its first overseas campus in Shenzen, China. It was the first international British-based boarding school to open in the country.

Merchiston International School (MIS) in Shenzhen is the first overseas campus of Merchiston Castle School. Source: Merchiston Shenzen

“There’s a huge desire amongst aspirational Chinese parents for their children to learn a British-style of education and be fluent in both Mandarin and English,” said Richard Gaskell, Schools Director at ISC Research.

“These schools provide a more Western style of education which offers greater access to the world’s best universities and, as a result, better job prospects.”

Since many of the students attending these schools are local, British private schools cater for both Chinese and expat students.

Some are operating on a ‘hybrid’ model which blends the Chinese curriculum with English-language instruction and Western pedagogy.

A total of 40 percent of international schools in China teach A-levels, compared to 15 percent that use the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Teachers looking to work overseas will find China a good avenue for job hunting, as research by the Independent Schools Council found private school fees rose more than six-fold between 1992 and 2016, while wages only tripled.

ISC Research said British schools opened more branches overseas last year than in any of the past 20 years.

“Creating new sources of income through overseas branches allows independent schools to grow without raising fees at home,” said Venture Education.

According to WorldSchools, these are the top British schools in China, in no particular order.

  • Britannica International School, Shanghai
  • Concordia International School Shanghai
  • Hangzhou International School
  • The British International School Shanghai, Puxi
  • Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong
  • Shanghai British International School
  • Harrow International School Beijing
  • Wellington College International Tianjin
  • Wycombe Abbey International School of Changzhou
  • Oxford International College of Chengdu

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