Chinese Parents Are Increasingly Sending Their Children To International Schools In Japan

Japan is seeing an international school construction boom, spurred by high-end brands in education who want to attract the children of rich Asian families, particularly from China.

It’s the largest increase in foreign education in the country since 2018 when Harrow, Rugby School, and Malvern College announced plans to open new campuses in the country, creating more than 3,000 additional student spots.

A yearly tuition of up to 9.3 million yen ($68,250) is required, and the school is banking on the well-to-do heirs of Japan’s elite being enticed by the school’s beautiful green grounds, foreign curriculum, and extensive extracurricular offerings. Among the benefits touted are Japan’s close proximity; a low incidence of COVID infection; and a lack of regulatory constraints.

Expatriate and local families alike are being pushed out of China because of continued pandemic restrictions and a crackdown on private schooling.

Mick Farley, the new headmaster of Harrow International School in the Japanese ski resort of Appi, stated, “We were looking for opportunities outside of China.” Before coming to Harrow’s, Farley was the head of the British School in Tokyo.  International schools and multilingual private schools are increasingly regulated and monitored in China because of the complexity of the educational options available.

Harrow Beijing , which opened earlier this year to meet the increasing demand from Chinese citizens who aren’t permitted to attend registered international schools, changed its name after the government forbade schools catering to Chinese pupils from using foreign names and phrases such as “global” or “international” in their titles. Foreign passport holders may attend the Harrow International School in Beijing, which is predominantly attended by expats, without being harmed.

According to ISC Research, an educational data supplier, enrolment at China’s locally-owned schools with foreign-school branding grew by more than 10% yearly before the crackdown.

Even two years after the outbreak, China’s COVID-Zero policy is still a driving force, with the threat of protracted lockdowns and remote learning still a genuine possibility.

Japan, on the other hand, has been steadily reopening while keeping the developed world’s lowest COVID death toll.

Japan’s government has also been dangling incentives to attract private schools, with rules that make it simpler for investors to secure tax rebates and to create offices and acquire visas. As previously reported, the Financial Services Agency is contemplating offering loans to investors in order to assist them find properties suitable for top international schools. International school tuition in Japan is expected to reach $979 million in 2022, up from $766 million in 2013. “Wealthy families are probably recognizing the downside of being in China and Hong Kong and are looking into moving families out,” said Manabu Murata, head of Seven Seas Capital Holdings, an investor and consultant to international schools in Japan. “Schools like Harrow appear to want to pick up that market. They are also hoping that families will eventually invest in the local community, such as buying a house nearby.”

There has been a significant rise in international school capacity in China in recent years, although enrolment in international schools in China is expected to remain unchanged through 2015.

A $53.5 billion worldwide market now exists for the services provided by foreign schools that were formerly considered niche products in many nations. There have been worries about how they perpetuate the idea that a Western education provided by Caucasian instructors and administrators is valued above all, justifying a high price tag.

Even so, the expansion is enticing other kinds of investment as well. Hakuba International School, created by Tomoko Kusamoto, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker, will open its doors this summer with a sustainability-focused curriculum. This year’s new pupils will be virtually entirely Japanese because of Japan’s strict border regulations. As Kusamoto predicts, foreign students will eventually make up the bulk of the school’s student body.

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