International Schools in China.

Types of International Schools in China

China has had an excellent reputation for international schools. Expat destinations such as Beijing and Shanghai have, for a long time, offered the best experience teaching in China. Attending international schools gives ex-pats the flexibility to choose from different curricula—for example, the British or American schooling systems.

Furthermore, many international schools in China have the International Baccalaureate (IB), a better choice for expats who relocate from one place to another and value an international experience.

China’s Ministry of Education focuses on four distinct types of international schools. These are;

  1. Schools for children of foreign workers (SCFW).
  2. Sino-Foreign Cooperative Schools.
  3. Chinese-owned private schools.
  4. Chinese-owned public schools.

International schools are relatively successful as they integrate the Chinese curriculum with various elements on international teaching, learning, and interactions, including learning in English. This is evident as an English teaching job in China has proven to be in demand.

This article focuses on the types of international schools in China.

1. Schools for children of foreign workers (SCFW).

These international schools are also known as expat schools. They are schools that offer international education to children of expatriates living in China. SCFW schools are fully international, and they do not enrol Chinese locals unless they’ve immigrated from other Asian countries or possess a foreign passport.

Moreover, the local Chinese curriculum is not offered in expat schools. Their central locations are in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong. Examples of these international schools are Shanghai American School, International School of Beijing, and the British School of Guangzhou.

For one to be enrolled in expat schools, they must prove to meet or fall into specific categories. These categories are listed below;

  1. Foreign passport holding children of embassy founders employees. I.e., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the USA, and returning students.
  2. Families holding foreign passports with either one or both parents holding a Chinese issued work visa and a student holding an S1 visa corresponding dependency.
  3. Permanent resident families of China-HK, China-Macau, and China Taiwan holding travel permits. Or foreign and Chinese passport holding families with Q1 visas or Chinese residency permits.
  4. Families with Chinese passports with foreign permanent residency permits with additional proof of having lived abroad for a minimum of one year.

It is essential to remember that these requirements might differ with each school. Furthermore, when space availability becomes an issue, higher priority applicants are given the priority of enrolment.

2. Sino-Foreign Cooperative Schools.

Sino-Foreign Cooperative Schools are operated jointly. Chinese owners and a foreign education company merge to form these international schools, but they are restricted to secondary and higher education.

These international schools are open to both Chinese and international students. The foreign organization is responsible for providing an educational brand and skills, while the Chinese partner is responsible for providing the lad and financial investment.

Examples of SFCS schools include the Chinese University of Hong Kong and NYU in Shanghai.

3. Chinese-owned Private Schools.

Even though the Chinese government is cracking down on private schools, Chinese -owned private schools are still a type of international school. Recently, these schools have been forced to adapt to the new government rules hat want private schools to go non-profit.

Over time, the number of private institutions has increased, and the competition they’ve posed on public schools has proved to be a threat to China’s education system, thus the crackdown.

Chinese-owned private schools have mostly served Chinese students. In reality, parents have had to tap into their savings to keep these schools running and making millions of profits. A perfect example is after-school tutoring, which has cost parents a fortune in the name of ensuring that their kids succeed in school.

4. Chinese-owned Public Schools.

Several public schools in China have gone to the extent of providing lessons through international streams. This means that they teach the Chinese national curriculum in both English and Chinese to high school students.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

1. How many international schools are there in China?

As of 2017, there were 564 international schools in China. To find a complete list of international schools in China, here is a valuable source.

2. Are Chinese locals allowed to enrol in international schools?

Depending on the type of international school, Chinese locals can either attend the school or not. For example, Schools for Children of Foreign Workers permit only international students.

Sino-Foreign Cooperative Schools, though, are flexible and welcome Chinese locals to enrol freely. The Chinese-owned Private Schools and the Chinese-owned Public Schools both permit Chinese locals to enrol.

3. Why is the Chinese government cracking down on private schools?

Among other reasons, reducing the burden on students as the private industry was getting very competitive and hoping to increase the declining birthrate played a significant role in the crackdown.

The pressure to meet the demands of after-school tutoring surpasses the need to have more children, thus a decline in the birth rate. The Chinese government is on a mission to increase the birth rate.


International schools in China have been continuously growing for the past two decades. The Chinese government, though, has implemented new reforms that affect the Chinese-owned private schools.

These amendments have led these privately owned schools to adapt to these changes instantly. Even though these businesses have seen severe effects, it is in the government’s best interest to protect the quality of education in China.

The SCFW and the SFCS haven’t been affected by these regulations.

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