Schools that teach Chinese students were banned from using foreign names and words – including “international” and “global” – in their names last year, as part of wider restrictions on private education in the country.

Harrow’s bilingual school, which teaches Chinese students, will change its name, but Harrow’s International School in Beijing, which can only accept foreign students, will not.

A representative from Harrow told the Financial Times that the school’s name is being changed now due to local authorities enforcing national rules.

The Chinese government last year halted the teaching of foreign curricula and the use of foreign textbooks in private schools that admit Chinese students up to grade nine. It also banned foreign entities and individuals from owning these private schools.

“Brand image goes beyond the name of the school”

Analysts at ISC Research said that the name change will not necessarily negatively impact admissions into the school, as “brand image goes beyond the name of the school”.

“Word of mouth is one of the most powerful channels for international school admissions and recruitment,” said Pia Maske, East Asia research manager at ISC Research.

“If the brand reputation is already strong and the learning provision right for the student, then a name change need not have a significant impact on a school’s admissions success.”

China’s private education sector has grown significantly in recent years – enrolment into international schools in the country increased by 3.4% over the past two years despite the pandemic, according to ISC Research.

But tougher restrictions from the Chinese government could curb the expansion of the international schools sector in the country.

“While there is continued demand for quality international education, particularly from Chinese families, schools and investors need to balance this with their capacity or appetite to navigate the risks and challenges of operating in China,” Maske told The PIE News.

Last year, Westminster school, an English private school, abandoned plans to develop six bilingual schools in China due to “recent changes in Chinese education policy”.

A representative from the school said the new regulations created “numerous financial and logistical challenges”.

Harrow has been contacted for comment.

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