China pushes private universities

Country looks to private sector to increase student numbers even further

February 7, 2017
Pile of Chinese currency 100s of yuan
Source: iStock

The Chinese government wants more private universities and online education providers as part of its plan to reform education over the next five years, according to reports.

China’s State Council shed some light on its plans for education in a series of statements at the end of last month.

“The social sector and private companies should be encouraged to set up schools and education institutions and provide diversified educational products and services,” one said.

Despite official nervousness about “Western values” reaching China’s youth through the education system, the country’s State Council appears happy to encourage private universities to flourish – although it is unclear if private ownership will equate to more freedom over curricula.  

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“Private education has gained great momentum and become a vital part of socialist education thanks to its crucial contribution to the promotion of education modernization and social development,” said another recent announcement from the council. All levels of government should provide financial support for private education, it ordered.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Li Wei, an equity analyst for Sinolink Securities, said that the most important theme this year is investment in the development of private higher education institutions”.

Private universities and vocational schools represented a big opportunity for investors, he added.

Last month’s State Council circular commits towards a focus on “student quality”, “creating a favourable campus and social environment”, and “international cooperation”, according to a summary.

It also set out aims to increase the number of higher education students from 36.5 million in 2015 to 38.5 million in 2020, as well as improve education in rural areas and for ethnic minorities.

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