Prestigious schools have plans in China

Updated: 2012-08-02 02:30

By Luo Wangshu in Beijing and Huang Zhiling in Chengdu (China Daily)

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Two prestigious international schools, Harrow School in London and the Juilliard School in New York, have plans to open campuses in China.

Harrow will open its fourth international school in China's southwest city of Chengdu, while Juilliard has decided to open a branch of its music and arts focused school in the north coastal city of Tianjin.

"Harrow signed a strategic plan on July 26 with its local partner Sichuan Zhongde Century Real Estate Co to open an international franchise in Chengdu," said Huang Xingguo, director of the international exchange division at the Chengdu education bureau.

According to the plan, the school will accommodate students from nursery to high school.

Huang said the admission process will require prospective students to take an exam, and both students and parents will be interviewed and quizzed on Harrow's traditions.

Teachers will be hired globally.

Edward Lee, director of Business Development at Harrow International Education Management, confirmed to China Daily via e-mail that Harrow will be setting up an international school in Chengdu that is scheduled to start operation in the fall of 2014.

"We have been comparing Chengdu with Shanghai and Singapore and come to the conclusion that Chengdu offers wider and more promising prospects," Lee said.

Chengdu has three international schools, each with tuition costs of about 100,000 yuan ($15,700) a year. Huang said Harrow's tuition will not be any cheaper.

Huang said Chengdu is a good place to open an international school because the city has many high-income residents.

Harrow already has three international schools, two of which are in China with campuses in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Harrow School, established in 1572, is a well-known boys boarding school in London. It has produced many notable alumni, including seven former British prime ministers such as Winston Churchill, literary giants including Lord Byron, and has educated members of various royal families from across the globe.

Unlike the original London school, which caters exclusively for male boarders, Harrow international schools allow day students and female students.

Juilliard is another elite international school targeting China.

Juilliard, founded in 1905, is considered one of the best music, dance and drama schools in the world and has produced countless world-class musicians and performers.

Juilliard recently announced it signed a framework agreement on June 26 with local partners to establish an education institute operated by Juilliard in Tianjin.

"The institute will be the only site in the region where prospective students can audition for admission for Juilliard in New York," the statement said.

The institute will provide non-accredited music programs to students from 8 to 18 years old, but the programs that will be offered are still under discussion.

William Vanbergen, founder of BE Education, a Shanghai-based consultancy that helps to prepare students for overseas study, told China Daily it is a trend for international schools to open franchises locally.

Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the Hurun Research Institute, also believes that franchises will bring more opportunities for local students.

Webb School in California, a top private secondary school in the United States, also has a strategic plan to open a franchise in China, according to Leo Marshall, director of admissions and financial aid.

However, other top international schools remain wary of franchises. Eton College in the UK, where Princes William and Harry attended, does not have plans to open an international branch, headmaster Tony Little said.

"Our philosophy is to bring British education to our boys, not an international one. Our managing factors includes boarding and all boys, which may hardly transfer to an international franchise," said Little, adding Eton would not be the same if it lost these characteristics.

Wang Xuming, director of the Language & Culture Press, also the former spokesman of Ministry of Education, said the trend presents a challenge to local schools.

"The launch of many international schools is a trigger for local schools to improve their education quality," Wang said.

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