Private school discussing retreat from China

  • 10th November 2023

Following on from problems in the education market in China, shareholders of Dulwich College International are in talks for a sale of the school’s China-heavy Asia operations, Reuters has reported, citing unnamed sources.

Stricter regulation, a sluggish economy and fewer foreign student numbers are forcing dozens of international and private schools in China to close or merge.

A few years ago there was a surge of privately run bilingual schools in China offering Western exam curricula. But the Chinese government imposed new rules in 2021 cracking down on private tutoring businesses, aimed at easing pressure on children and lowering the costs for families.

Julian Fisher, managing director of Venture Education, a Beijing-based market intelligence consultancy specialising in China’s education sector, said three years of the pandemic has made the situation even worse, adding: “The cynic would say the sector is in terminal decline, the average Chinese investor simply that it’s going through growing pains.”

Dulwich College International operates nine schools in China including bilingual schools catering to Chinese nationals, which have been hit hardest by regulatory changes. Dulwich International also has schools in Singapore and South Korea.

In its 2022 annual report Dulwich said: “Strategic plans for growth of its high schools in China have been “scaled back in light of changing government regulations.”

Education in Motion, which owns and operates Dulwich College International schools and high schools in China, South Korea and Singapore, said it was “in the process of bringing in a new strategic financial partner”, adding the process would also allow partners to exit their investments in the group. It said it was a planned process of refinancing and “not connected to regulatory changes in any market”.

In China’s southern Greater Bay Area, closed schools include Dulwich International’s Early Years Centre in Shenzhen, Eton-House international kindergarten and Victoria Kid House in Guangzhou.

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