Education is of signal value in China. The industry is both open to virtually limitless opportunities and subject to special regulation. In fact, unlike most other business sectors, education is more often than not deemed a public benefit sector under PRC law. As such, the size, challenges and potential value of the market are often underestimated, especially by foreign parties.
Many of China’s biggest businesses owe their success to two powerful Chinese characteristics: high levels of personal investment in education and widespread openness to innovative learning. China has recently seen more schools established, course materials supplied, hours spent in tutoring, certifications developed and related technical and other support services engaged than anywhere else. And China, with more high-tech-connected students and parents than anywhere in the world, continues to revolutionize EdTech – such as augmented reality and AI-assisted learning experiences – and open entirely new avenues in education.
The rapid rise of such developments is achieved only through successful navigation of the volumes of legislation and regulation aimed at any business even tangentially involved in education and the watchful eyes and strict disciplining of regulators and industry groups. Multi-dimensional investment restrictions or requirements, local licensing and other approvals, content controls, constant supervision and recurring regulatory campaigns are just some of the legal challenges faced by businesses operating in China’s education industry. Foreign parties in particular must often rely on bespoke arrangements to legally operate in the education market. At the same time, the revolutionary nature of the industry, especially in China, implicates a variety of laws and regulations geared more towards other industries – such as telecoms, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics – and calls for not only interdisciplinary but also cutting-edge legal counsel.
As a foundational cornerstone of our practice, DaHui has always regularly assisted local and foreign business in all facets of this unique industry. We have advised many foreign educational institutions and service providers on their market entry, structure and cooperation with local partners, including governmental approvals, enrollment, tuition fee collection, campus construction, granting credit/diplomas, curriculum management and foreign staff employment. We have also represented local educators and investors in an array of contexts, including academic and non-academic, K-12 and higher, offline and online education.
Advised Dulwich College International, a family of schools with eight full international schools and two international high schools in Asia, on regulatory aspects of its operations, such as developing and implementing policies and measures for mandatory drug testing of faculty, staff and students involving cross-border transfers of genetic materials.
Acting as sole PRC counsel to EtonX, the prestigious British preparatory school's joint venture for online courses, assisted in the establishment and structuring of its PRC presence and introduction of its landmark Modern Leadership Programme.
Represented Genesis Capital, established by former Tencent investment team, in several of its largest, most high-profile investments, including in Zhangmen Education and Global Online Education (both leading online K-12 education service providers in China).
Advised and represented AJE and its parent brand Research Square, leading international academic and research communications service providers, on the strategy and implementation of establishing a local presence in China and, with PRC partners, more efficiently offering its services in the highly regulated domestic market.
Represented Tencent in four successive rounds of financing of the online education platform VIPKid.