Ambitious schools and colleges in the Midlands are being urged to cash in on the continued rise of China as it looks to bring its education system up to date.
The opportunity for Midland educational institutions to avail themselves of business opportunities by sharing their academic expertise was highlighted following a visit by a group high school principals from Shanghai to the region.
During their six-week stay 18 principals saw what the English educational system might offer schools in China and were involved a variety of professional development activities, including shadowing head teachers and senior staff in schools across the region as well as learning more about curriculum development.
Among the schools and colleges they visited were the King Edward VI High School for Girls and Joseph Chamberlain College, both in Birmingham, Burton and South Derbyshire College and Hagley School.
Chinese educational business opportunities might still be some way off but Mike Loftus, an expert in promoting a range of new business opportunities between the UK and China, believes they could become as valid an export as high end manufactured good.
Mr Loftus, who has been involved in the visits of many Chinese delegations to the Midlands, said: Behind all this is a need in China to have an overhaul of the education system.
There has been a massive expansion of higher education in China but there are concerns it is not delivering the quality of education China needs.
Clearly over the last four or five years if you look at Jaguar Land Rover the capacity to sell high value products into the Chinese market has become more and more obvious and there has rightly been a huge focus on manufacturing as we still make things for world markets.
But there are other areas of expertise that are highly rated on the world market that we can also sell if we can find a way of presenting them properly and engaging with buyers on the other side of the marketplace.
Mr Loftus said that as the infrastructure in China attempts to keep pace with economic growth there are fears its education system is lagging behind.
The Chinese education system up to the age of 18 doesnt really prepare people for university education and increasing numbers of young Chinese people are coming to England to do A-levels, he added.
Though schools and colleges could benefit financially by recruiting Chinese students he believes the long-term benefits will come from partnerships that see British educational expertise exported.
The thinking is to do more A-level type teaching and form partnerships in the UK but doing it in China rather than sending children away.
They want to know how education works in the UK, to see if they might be able to build relationships with us. There is an export market selling educational services and this is something that is becoming more and more apparent.
Educational tie-ups could see British teachers working in China or even satellite schools colleges or university campuses set up there, as well as providing support.
A number of private schools have set up facilities in China, along with a couple of universities, said Mr Loftus. He added that a gap had emerged between what is perceived as an elite band of Chinese universities and the mainstream.