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Hainan presents opportunities for China TNE

The government in Hainan – an island province off the south coast of China – has announced that a new higher education institute will open next year managed by Germany’s Bielefeld University of Applied Science, which is believed to be the first wholly foreign-owned transnational education project in China.

HainanBest known as a popular tourist spot, Hainan offers new opportunities to international institutions. Photo: Needpix

Hainan plans to increase international student numbers to 10,000 annually

Located in the province’s Free Trade Port – which aims to rival Hong Kong and Singapore as a global economic centre by 2050 – the university will, according to local government, offer degree-level courses in subjects such as “economic information, the enterprise economy, economic engineering, smart logistics, [and] smart technology”.

Due to local regulations, TNE in China is usually managed under a joint venture whereby a foreign organisation must have a local partner in order to operate.

“[Hainan FTP will allow] overseas high-level universities and vocational colleges… open branch schools independently”

However, according to law firm Dezan Shira, part of the plans for the Hainan FTP include allowing “overseas high-level universities and vocational colleges specialised in science, engineering, agriculture, and medicine to open branch schools independently in Hainan”.

It also aims to “assist well-known foreign universities and domestic universities with working together to set up Chinese-foreign cooperatively-run schools with independent legal entities”.

Many TNE projects on the island have previously been geared towards hospitality and tourism due to the area’s status as a popular tourism destination.

As part of the development of the FTP, the government has additionally embarked on plans to increase international student numbers – which doubled between 2016 and 2018 – to 10,000 annually, and initiatives to teach civil servants foreign languages.

UK school Harrow will also be opening its first school in the capital Haikou this year.

Bielefeld University of Applied Science declined to comment on the nature of their agreement in the FTP and said only that it is in the “planning, development and co-ordination phase”.

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