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China: UK top boarding school destination

The UK is the top destination for Chinese parents choosing a boarding education for their children, a new report commissioned by the Boarding Schools’ Association has found. 

The report showed that Chinese parents still view the UK as the top destination for a boarding school education. Photo: BSA

Some 99% of parents surveyed said they regard the UK as the best place to study

The report, produced in partnership with British Council China and UK and Chinese education specialist Connexcel, had responses from almost 900 Chinese families.

“We’d heard anecdotal evidence that interest in the UK boarding market remains strong”

Some 99% of parents surveyed said they regard the UK as the best place to study from a list of worldwide destinations. 

Other key findings were that the pandemic has not deterred parents from selecting UK boarding schools, with just 10% saying they were either undecided or would defer their child’s place.

“This report provides an important snapshot of Chinese parents’ views and will clearly inform UK boarding schools what they are doing well in terms of recruiting Chinese students, and what parents and students are looking for when making their choices,” said Robin Fletcher, CEO, BSA and BSA Group.

“Before this report, we’d heard anecdotal evidence that interest in the UK boarding market remains strong, despite some of the ongoing restrictions around international travel and other COVID-19 concerns, and the evidence here shows that is definitely still the case.”

The survey had responses from Chinese families who have children currently boarding at UK schools at both Prep and Senior level, and those registered to begin boarding in the next two years.

These families and their children have experienced challenges posed by isolation, travel restrictions, distance learning and repeated health testing. 

In many cases, students have not been able to return home for holidays and have needed generous assistance from guardians and school house staff in the UK, according to the report.

“UK boarding enjoys an enviable reputation all over the world”

The report found that restrictions have “significantly impacted” current parents but only a tiny minority (0.89%) say they will definitely abandon their idea of sending their child abroad. 

Fletcher said the report also demonstrates that the work BSA have been undertaking in the past year to launch its Certified Agent and Guardian schemes, which give an “assurance of quality”, will continue to be a service which parents value highly.

“UK boarding enjoys an enviable reputation all over the world. It has a long and proud tradition of welcoming international students, from China and across the globe, and we’re delighted this study indicates that if schools continue to meet parents’ and students’ needs, this will continue to be the case,” Fletcher noted. 

Other key findings from the report showed how much parents value the work of a trusted, high-quality agent to help them find the right school for their child. 

“Of those parents surveyed, 74% felt the most important source of information when choosing a school came from educational agencies, with 63% making their application through an agent, and 66% choosing an agent after a recommendation from a satisfied friend or relative,” BSA added. 

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