UK boarding schools remain top choice for Chinese parents

A new survey of Chinese parents for the Boarding Schools’ Association found that 99% of respondents placed the UK top of a list of worldwide destinations

Chinese parents are overwhelmingly satisfied that the UK is the best place for their children to undertake a boarding education, according to a new report.

Ninety-nine per cent of poll respondents placed the UK top of a list of worldwide destinations.

Commissioned by the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA), the survey sought the views of almost 900 Chinese families with children either currently boarding at UK independent schools or registered to take up places within the next two years.

Despite fears that issues around Covid-19 might discourage parents from opting for UK boarding schools, only 10% said they were either undecided or would defer their child’s place. Eighty-five per cent said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the schools’ performance during the pandemic.

Parents with children already boarding in the UK largely believed that the experience had been a positive one, with 69% of the opinion that their child had become increasingly self-reliant and mature.

Nevertheless, the report – produced in partnership with British Council China and UK and Chinese education specialist Connexcel – warns that there is no room for complacency when it comes to attracting Chinese students in the future.

This report will clearly inform UK boarding schools what they are doing well in terms of recruiting Chinese students – Robin Fletcher, BSA

“Whilst high levels of parental satisfaction are evident amongst those within the system, much uncertainty remains amongst those thinking about, or preparing for, entry,” it concludes.

“It will be important for schools to do all they can to maintain strong levels of confidence in their ability to provide continuity and deliver an outstanding experience for all pupils.”

The report also shines a light on the impact of the BSA’s Certified Agents and Guardians scheme. More than 85 providers have signed up since the initiative launched in 2020, aiming to assure boarding schools and parents of their professional quality across recruitment, safeguarding and student placement.

Fifty-nine per cent of poll respondents were aware of the scheme, with 82% considering assurance around certification of a guardian or guardianship agency an important factor.

“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.

“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.”

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