Knowledge Exchange

Opportunities For Synergy In The Education Industry Of The GBA

Alison Cai (Class of 2021)

The strategic positioning of the GBA 

“A vibrant global city group, an international centre of scientific and technological innovation with global influence, an important support for the construction of “ One Belt One Road”, a demonstration zone for deep co-operation between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, and a quality living area suitable for living, working and travelling”[1].

The construction of the GBA forms a new pattern for the future opening of China to the world. The linkage effect of the economic and social development of the GBA will promote the integration of Hong Kong and Macao into the overall development of the country, and at the same time, promote the establishment of good political and economic relations between China and the rest of the world. This in turn will promote mutual human destiny. The flow of talent brought by the development of the GBA can effectively promote the deepening of people-to-people exchanges and cooperation and the GBA will also be an important transportation hub forming an integrated transportation system composing of land, sea and air. This will give a strong boost to the construction of the “One Belt One Road” initiative and the further improvement of economic and trade cooperation and exchange between China and the outside world.

The development of colleges and universities is the key to the innovation of the GBA 

The reserve of talent, scientific research and advanced achievements provided by higher education are key elements for the construction of the high-tech innovation plateau. The San Francisco Bay Area has 73 universities with strong academic research and is home to Silicon Valley. In the process of building a high-end platform for high-tech innovation and development, more than 20 well-known universities, including Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, have played a pivotal role in supporting the production of high-tech entrepreneurs and leaders.

Guangdong has 151 institutions of higher education but only Sun Yat-sen University and South China University of Technology have been selected in the country’s “Double-A” construction plan, while Hong Kong has 5 universities in the world’s top 100. Therefore, in the construction of the innovation platform for the science and technology industry in the GBA we should learn from the innovative ways and experiences of the world-class San Francisco Bay Area. The GBA should make up for the shortage of world-famous universities, and their high-end talent through the construction of an innovation platform as soon as possible. To attract the world’s top experts and talent the GBA must develop existing graduate schools and build more world-class universities.

The supporting role of basic education in the development of GBA public schools to ensure basic education’s equity and balance 

“Education is the foundation of people’s livelihood and the foundation of the country. A strong country needs strong education”. Chinese President Xi Jinping stated in his report at the 19th National Congress that education is a basic project of the “Chinese Dream” and education must be given priority when building a strong country.

In the GBA the office of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s government held a press conference on December 3rd, 2020. Deputy mayor Nie Xinping said in his introduction that “By 2025 Shenzhen will have built nearly a million new basic education seats.” He added “The city has added 740,000 new public compulsory education seats, 145,000 new kindergarten seats, and 97,000 new public senior middle school seats.” Chen Qiuming, the Secretary for Education said that the next five years will be an unprecedented window of school construction in Shenzhen and that 50,000 to 60,000 new primary and secondary school teachers are expected to be hired in the future.

Private schools meet the diverse and individualised needs of education 

While public education is dedicated to solving the problems of equity in social development, private education is dedicated to providing the individualisation and diversification needed in education.

In China’s basic education, private schools include foreign international schools (only for foreigners and expats), Minban schools, and the international departments of public schools. Foreign international schools aim to educate the children of diplomats and foreign enterprise employees in China (the first international school in China was opened in Beijing in 1980 after the economic reforms). The international departments of public schools were set up to meet the test preparation needs of students studying abroad. Minban schools refer to ordinary private schools that have opened up since the 1990s.

Data shows that in 2019, among all the international schools, Minban international schools accounted for 67% of the GBA’s private international school market with foreign international schools accounting for 27% and public international departments accounting for 6% [6].

The development of foreign international schools and Minban international schools will help to enhance the internationalisation of the GBA urban agglomerations and solve diversified educational needs. This will help to eventually attract more professional talent to the GBA area.

Both supply and demand drive the growth of the education market 

Since 2015 China’s Minban international schools have been developing rapidly. From the perspective of the supply side there are three main reasons: Firstly, under the influence of government policy, the international department of public schools have transformed into private international schools. Secondly, more capital is going into the Minban international school system from the financial and technology sectors (Ping An Group has invested in many international schools throughout the GBA and is planning a separate listing on the education sector in the future. Huawei has also invested in a school called Dongguan Qinglan School in the GBA). Thirdly, the real estate industry is also investing In the education industry; Guangdong Country Garden Group started its educational real estate programme in 1994, Wanke Group’s Shenzhen Vanke Meisha College began life in 2015, and Kaisa Group is developing Minban international schools. Minban international schools have good financial returns and can lead to an increase in social influence and the added value of real estate.

On the demand side, as the GDP in GBA grows the middle-class and its disposable income expands. The education consumption concept is also evolving. People’s ideas on children’s education is gradually developing from a traditional curriculum to one that is multi-element, international and high-end. This is promoting the rapid development of the region’s international education market.

Opportunities for private schools within the GBA: Private international schools occupy a major share

According to New Theory the international school market in the GBA totalled 7.68 billion Yuan in 2019, with an annual compound growth rate of 15.77% from 2016 to 2019. Shenzhen ranks first when comparing the tuition fees of international schools with an average of 143,000 Yuan per year. Private international schools can charge up to 288,000 Yuan per year.

The opportunities for private education in the development of the Guangdong

The construction of the GBA provides a good opportunity for the development of private education in Guangdong. To build a first-class international bay area, as well as a global city, Guangdong needs the support of talent, science and technology. The role of private education in the modernisation of education within the GBA will become more prominent. The siphon effect of the population, science and technology, and industrial agglomeration within the GBA will also provide a broad space for the development of private education.

The education industry promotes the development of other industries

The development of the education industry in the GBA not only supports and consolidates the development of other industries but also drives the development of related industries such as science and technological innovation, the financial industry and tourism. The development of these industries will feedback into the education industry spurring more growth.



Appendix : 

[1] Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council, “Outline of the development plan for the GBA”,, Feb,2019 

[2]Li Xiaofeng,” Give full play to universities’ supporting role in the construction of GBA”, China Education People’s network ( ) , Nov,2018 

[3] “Shenzhen announces: Nearly million new seats by 2025”, Shenzhen Business Daily; Dec,2020 

[4] “The 40-year history and development of China’s international education schools”, Southern Education News, Nov,2019. 

[5] “Seminar on the development of Minban education in GBA held by the provincial education research institute”, Guangdong Education Research Center, Aug 2020. 

[6] “Analysis of the development of the GBA International school sector in 2020”, Perspective Economist, Nov,2020