The UK is still the top destination for Chinese parents choosing a boarding education for their children, according to a new report commissioned by the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA).

The report, produced in partnership with British Council China and UK and Chinese education specialist Connexcel, gives valuable feedback to schools seeking to meet the needs of international boarders and maintain confidence among Chinese parents. It showed that 99 per cent of parents surveyed regard the UK as the best place to study from a list of worldwide destinations.

It also showed that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has not deterred parents from selecting UK boarding schools, with just 10 per cent saying they were either undecided or would defer their child’s place. Performance of UK boarding schools during the COVID-19 pandemic was also praised, with 85 per cent of parents from China very satisfied or satisfied.

Almost 900 Chinese families with children currently boarding at UK schools at both Prep and Senior level, and those registered to begin boarding in the next two years, answered the survey – around 15 per cent of the total number. These families and their children have experienced some of the most extreme challenges posed by isolation, travel restrictions, distance learning and repeated health testing. In many cases, students have not been able to return home for holidays and have needed generous assistance from guardians and school house staff in the UK.

Other key findings from the report show how much parents value the work of a trusted, high-quality agent to help them find the right school for their child. Of those parents surveyed, 74 per cent felt the most important source of information when choosing a school came from educational agencies, with 63 per cent making their application through an agent, and 66 per cent choosing an agent after a recommendation from a satisfied friend or relative.

Responses also highlighted the importance of guardianship for parents, with 59 per cent of parents aware of it, with 82 per cent considering assurance around certification of a guardian or guardianship agency an important factor. In 2020, the BSA launched both its Certified Agents and Guardians schemes, to assure boarding schools and parents of their professional quality across recruitment, safeguarding and student placement. Both schemes have provided popular, with more than 85 providers signing up so far.

Other notable highlights from the survey included 95 per cent of parents highlighting education quality as one of the key factors in choosing their child’s study destination, with security and safety of a country also a key consideration for 92 per cent of respondents, as well as good pastoral care (93 per cent). Parents also felt studying at UK boarding schools has a very positive impact on their children, with 69 per cent feeling their child became more self-reliant and increasingly mature in their outlook.

Robin Fletcher, CEO, BSA and BSA Group, said: “This report provides an important snapshot of Chinese parents’ views and will clearly inform UK boarding schools what they are doing well in terms of recruiting Chinese students, and what parents and students are looking for when making their choices.

“Before this report, we’d heard anecdotal evidence that interest in the UK boarding market remains strong, despite some of the ongoing restrictions around international travel and other COVID-19 concerns, and the evidence here shows that is definitely still the case.

“It also demonstrates that the work we’ve been undertaking in the past year to launch our Certified Agent and Guardian schemes, which give an assurance of quality, will continue to be a service which parents value highly.

“UK boarding enjoys an enviable reputation all over the world. It has a long and proud tradition of welcoming international students, from China and across the globe, and we’re delighted this study indicates that if schools continue to meet parents’ and students’ needs, this will continue to be the case.”

To view a copy of the full report, please visit the BSA website: