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Michael Scott

Michael Scott

Writer, Safehaven.com

Michael Scott majored in International Business at San Francisco State University and University of Economics, Prague. He is now working as a news editor for…

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This Nation Is Buying Up Iconic U.S. Colleges

College

Outside of Beijing there is a version of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, complete with cowboys, a church and even Route 66, though this appropriation of Western culture is increasingly at odds with China’s core Socialist values.

But it’s a hard snowball to stop in its tracks, once it’s started rolling.

China has also invested in dozens of iconic U.S. companies, from Smithfield Foods and GE Appliances to Waldorf Astoria, Motorola and the Chicago Stock Exchange …

But now a new trend has emerged that could potentially help China fill in some of its own educational gaps, especially in the IT field. It could also have national security implications, say some.

Chinese companies are buying up U.S. educational institutions.

The most recent acquisition was last month when Raider University affiliate Westminster Choir College was sold to state-owned Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co. for $40 million.

The Chinese buyer signed a nonbinding term sheet calling for it to pay $40 million to purchase Westminster’s $19 million endowment, facilities, programs and campus in Princeton.

The college was ripe for the deal because this nearly 100-year-old music institution has lost $10.7 million since fiscal year 2015.

But Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology a big unknown in the world of academia world. That’s because just weeks before the acquisition, the buyer changed its name from Jiangsu Zhongtai Bridge Steel Structure Co.

New Jersey-based Westminster is not the first educational institution bought by Chinese in the last three years.

In November, Boston based Bay State College was sold to Ambow Education Holding Ltd.  The company filed for a $5-million IPO in the U.S. two months before that.

At a bankruptcy auction last August, NCF Capital Ltd. paid $26 million for the former home of New York Dowling College. NCF Capital was the backup bidder but won the auction since Princeton Education Center LLC failed to close on its $26.5 million offer. Related: Trump Targets Amazon As Tech-Sell Off Continues

Economic uncertainty, the high cost of enrollment and lack of students has caused the US higher-education system to become inexorably financially strapped. And for now, it seems to be China to the rescue.

According to the Washington-based National Center for Education Statistics, some 66 post-secondary schools were shuttered in 2015-2016.

Furthermore, dozens of for-profit colleges could be forced to close in the next several years. Since 2016, over 350 for-profit colleges stopped receiving federal aid, as they proved to be insufficient. 

Analysts believe that in the future there will be more cases of sales of institutions of higher education to foreigners because right now, it’s their only means of survival.

Chinese companies will gain from these acquisitions due their potential to feed students to US colleges at a time when there is an increased appetite in China for studying abroad.

One thing may halt the Chinese push into U.S. education: The Trump administration is considering placing restrictions on student visas for Chinese citizens, especially for graduate students in science and technology programs—an idea that goes hand-in-hand with talk of invoking a 40-year-old national emergency rule that would effectively ban Chinese investments in U.S. technology.

By Michael Scott for Safehaven.com

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