Global

With Eye on China, Canadian Education Company Buys Community College

December 18, 2007

CIBT Education Group, a Canadian education-management company that runs 17 postsecondary institutions in China, has bought one of the oldest career colleges in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sprott Shaw Community College, with plans to export many of its 140 vocational programs to China.

The company paid $12-million in cash for the private college, which was founded in 1903, the Vancouver Sun reported.

CIBT runs what it terms 2+2 programs for students who study for two years in China and then go overseas, usually to Britain for the final two years. Tony Chu, CIBT’s president, said his company had started looking for a destination in Canada because Chinese students say they want to study there.

“Currently, the biggest markets are the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.,” he told the Sun. “Canada, however, is the most competitive market in terms of lower living costs.”

It’s also possible CIBT will acquire or become a partner with other Canadian colleges. Managers from China are evaluating Sprott Shaw’s courses to decide which to export first, including hotel management, animation, and construction management.

CIBT is regarded as having an inside track in China, according to a report published this year by the Asia Pacific Foundation and Western Economic Diversification.

“Because CIBT’s senior management are mostly overseas Chinese, [it] can make inroads into lesser known cities where there is little foreign competition,” the report said, noting that CIBT started turning a profit last year and is committed to investing millions of dollars in its campuses and operations by 2010. —Karen Birchard