- Chinese companies are showing interest in U.S. campuses and educational properties, according to Inside Higher Ed, which recounts an ongoing lawsuit involving the purchase of a functioning but financially troubled nonprofit music college in New Jersey.
- The potential $40 million sale of that institution, Westminster Choir College, to the for-profit Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Company is being disputed over questions of academic freedom, politics and land use. Westminster is part of Rider University.
- The Chinese company owns only K-12 schools in China and is new to the education space, operating as Jiangsu Zhongtai Bridge Steel Structure Company until earlier this year. Rider officials expect to sell Westminster after plans to absorb the institution were protested.
Other colleges have drawn the interest of Chinese investors, Bloomberg reported, including those that have closed due to financial problems or accreditation issues. Their investment comes at a time when foreign interest in U.S. companies has dropped dramatically, according to CNN, which notes that spending was down 32% year-over-year in 2017 and $180 billion off a historic high set in 2015.
For example, the 53-acre site of the former Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire, was acquired for $11.6 million by an undisclosed Chinese interest who city officials said hopes to start a college in the U.S., according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. A local newspaper in Virginia reported that Chinese investors purchased the former Saint Paul's College for $2.5 million soon after it was put it on the market.
And in November, Ambow Education, which offers tutoring and career consulting services throughout China, purchased Bay State College in Boston in the hopes of using it to create an educational pathway for Chinese students to attend U.S. colleges.
Chinese investors are among those from several countries investing in student housing in and around U.S. college campuses, the Wall Street Journal reported. The investors see the student housing sector as immune to most market cycles, even in real estate, and in need of considerable modernization. U.S. colleges are currently grappling with a housing shortage that such investment could help alleviate.