By Uglobal Staff
Schools are a big deal for immigration investors: a recent Huron Group report identified education as the top factor behind the emigration of Chinese HNWIs, with 76 percent citing schooling as a key reason they left China.
That’s transforming schools around the world: between 2005 and 2011, there was a tenfold increase in the number of Chinese pupils enrolled in U.S. high schools, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and the number of Chinese pupils in private U.S. schools exploded from just 65 in 2006 to 23,795 by 2013. More than 34,000 students from China attended American high schools in the 2016-17 school year alone, according to a report from the International Institute for Education. That’s two fifths of all international school students in the U.S., and a 48 percent increase from 2013.
And while the U.S. is a perennial favorite for education-minded immigrants — thanks, in large part, to its world-class higher-education system — there are plenty of other immigrant-friendly jurisdictions for HNWIs to consider when grade-school education is a priority.
Figuring out which country’s schools are right for your child can be tough, and almost a third of HNWIs aged 45 or under now seek professional advice about family issues including their children’s education, according to a PwC report. The key, says international education consultant Mary Langford, is considering your family’s specific needs: young children tend to be more adaptable than teens, for instance, but language issues and cultural or pedagogical differences can prove challenging for kids of any age.
The bottom line, Langford says, is that investors should plan ahead, and not assume things will simply work out, or that schools will operate the same way they did in their country of origin.
“It’s about doing your homework before going to a place,” she says.
Close to 29 percent of China’s millionaires believe that Britain has the world’s best schools, according to Huron Group. Certainly, many wealthy families from around the world dream of sending their children to storied private institutions such as Eton or Harrow.
“I see the great advantage of classic British schools in their centuries-long traditions and all-round education approach, which must be reassuring in today’s rapidly changing world,” says Ekaterina Ametistova, a partner at Bruton Lloyd, an educational consultancy catering to wealthy clients.
Still, she says, it’s not always easy to find places.
“Top public schools, which are sought after by most HNW families, are very competitive,” Ametistova warns. Many finalize admissions two to three years in advance, she explains, so there aren’t always places available for new arrivals. Though less glamorous, Britain’s state-run schools are also well-regarded; still, places are assigned based on address, so it’s important to plan ahead when buying a home.
The U.S. may have the best universities, but Canada beats its southern neighbor when it comes to grade-school education: the country is the world’s top destination for Chinese students, according to EIC Education, receiving 32 percent of Chinese students who go abroad for high school. Canada has a strong tradition of public bilingual education, with more than 340,000 children enrolled in French-language immersion programs as of 2011, and the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program allows investors’ children to attend school as Canadian residents, rather than foreign students. Uncertainty over the Trump administration’s immigration policies is further boosting Canada’s appeal, Langford says.
“A lot of people are thinking they’ll give the U.S. a miss, and head north,” she explains. “The schools have a good reputation, and there’s a general perception that it’s safer than the U.S.”
Dutch children are the happiest in the world, according to a UNICEF survey, and the country’s state-run schools deliver a world-beating education without stressing out their pupils.
“There’s not much pressure on the children, especially the younger children,” says relocation specialist Annebet van Mameren.
The Dutch education system, which ranked fifth in the world in last year’s World Economic Forum ranking, combines free state-run schools with subsidized international schools that offer an expat-friendly education for just a few thousand euros a year.
“You still have the same diplomas and a very high standard of education for a fraction of what you’d pay for a typical international school,” Van Mameren explains.
Another bonus for new arrivals: the Dutch pride themselves on their global outlook, and more than 150 schools use English as their language of instruction, according to ISC Research.
“You can get by very easily without speaking the language,” Van Mameren says. “The education is very high quality, and there are lots of programs in place for kids who don’t speak Dutch.”
Chinese parents have been sending their children to Australia in increasing numbers since Canada reduced its investment-visa options in 2012. This year, a Bain & Co. report named Australia one of the top growth regions for overseas investments by Chinese HNWIs,and cited education as a major reason for the shift. Australia is popular with affluent Chinese families because it combines proximity to China with a strong English-language education system, according to Dr Minglu Chen, a lecturer at the University of Sydney.
“Parents, wealthy middle class parents in China, would prefer their children to be educated in an English-speaking society,” Chen told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Australian schools don’t have the brand recognition of some British or American institutions, but score well on global rankings: US News & Global Report rated Australia as having the fourth-best education system worldwide in 2017.
Singapore residency doesn’t come cheap — the Global Investor Program requires a SG$2.5 million (about $1.8 million) investment — but it opens the doorway to some of the best schools in the world. The country’s famously high-pressure schools are best suited for families that value hard work: there are plenty of high-stakes exams, and 70 percent of Singaporean children receive private tutoring outside school hours. Securing a spot can be stressful, too: Singapore’s public school system is overcrowded, and a 2015 survey found that only 34 percent of foreign applicants received the places they wanted. Privately run schools are a popular alternative: Singapore has the 6th-largest network of international schools in the world, with about 65,000 students enrolled, according to ISC Research. “Singapore is buzzing — they’re opening schools all the time,” Langford says.
Still, demand continues to outpace supply.
“You can’t just turn up and say ‘Here’s my 10 year old,’” Langford said.