Affordable international schools make their way into second- and third-tier cities

Students gain equal access to international education resources in second- and third-tier cities with the introduction of international schools. Photo: IC

When Helen Zhou and her 13-year-old son Tiantian first arrived at Chenshan School in Huangshan, Anhui Province in 2014, they were impressed by the boarding school’s campus, located in a scenic resort by beautiful hills in Xiuning, a county in Huangshan.

Zhou, who works in IT industry in Beijing, embarked on the tour in a bid to search for an ideal international middle school for Tiantian. She had done research and compared international schools in Beijing, but none stood out to her and Tiantian as much as Chenshan did.

“Among the draws of Chenshan are the teaching faculty dedicated to offering International Baccalaureate (IB) courses (an education program recognized worldwide for its rigor and innovation), the strong background of the school investor and its valuable learning and living environment so close to nature,” explained Zhou.

“The international education resources were still scarce [in China] in 2014,” she added.

Over the past two years, an international education boom has started in China responding to the rising demand of middle- and upper-class urban families’ desire to access foreign education resources. While a growing number of schools and programs boasting international education are available in first tier cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, Chenshan is one of the players pioneered to establish campuses in second- and third-tier cities.

According to a May report in Future, a magazine focused on overseas education, more than 15 schools offering international education are slated to open within the year in second- and third-tier cities, such as Yantai in Shandong Province, Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province and Lanzhou in Gansu Province.