Peking university to open new campus in Oxford next year

Rachael Pells
The new campus is to be set at Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor house and former home to the eighth earl of Berkeley: Peking University HSBC Business School

A Chinese university named one of the best higher education institutions in the world is to open a new campus in the UK next year.

Peking University will open a branch of its Beijing HSBC Business School in Oxford just a few miles from the UK’s top ranking institution, Chinese financial magazine Caixin reported.

The campus will be set at Foxcombe Hall, a 19th century manor house and grounds recently purchased by Peking University for a reported £8.8m.

Chinese officials said courses at the new Oxford college, which is not connected to the University of Oxford, would focus on “professional knowledge of China’s economy, financial market and corporate management”.

The move comes as the ruling Communist party seeks to boost the international profile of Chinese universities while also announcing tighter ideological control to retain party “strongholds”.

Peking University dean Wen Hai, said the institution had won a bid for the site against three other parties, including one unnamed Oxford college, by offering a “very tempting price” that left the sellers “little room to say ‘no’’.

Speaking to Caixin, Mr Wen said the university had been able to do so thanks to its close ties to China’s Communist party. He said those connections allowed it to “to expedite the transfer of money transfer needed for the acquisition” despite tight capital controls imposed by Beijing in an attempt to stop firms and citizens shifting large sums of money overseas.

Peking University was ranked joint second in the Times Higher Education Best Asia Universities rankings last week.

The number of British students choosing to study in China has also soared in the past year, leading experts to predict the country could overtake the UK as a top university destination within the next few years.

A number of British universities have also begun plans to expand by opening campuses in Asia – including the University of Leicester, which last month announced it would open a campus in the north-eastern province of Liaoning in mainland China.

Speaking to The Independent, the British Council said the new Peking campus could be a positive move for higher education in the UK, in spite of concerns raised for the industry’s reputation post-Brexit.

A spokesperson said: "The British Council welcomes this initiative, it is a good example of the role higher education can play in promoting good relations and better understanding between the people of the UK and people worldwide."