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Mon 30 Apr 2007 12:05 AM

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Top UK school plans Gulf franchises

Wellington College plans to boost revenue with licensed schools in Bahrain and Qatar.

Wellington College is planning to license schools in Bahrain and Qatar in order to fund free and subsidised places, the UK's Sunday Times reported yesterday.

Anthony Seldon, master of the Berkshire, England school, told the paper the two or three franchises would provide ‘a fantastic source of revenue’ which could be ploughed back into business.

The move is part of a wider drive by Britain’s top independent schools, which hope to cash in on their high reputation by launching chains of overseas franchises. It comes in the wake of government threats to remove the charitable status of independent schools - a potential loss of £100m a year.

Despite a reputational risk, Harrow is considering funding up to 200 places – a quarter of its intake - by licensing five schools in southeast Asia, China and India. Headmaster Barnaby Lenon told the Sunday Times the school would need to generate almost £5m a year to meet this goal, which would help to broaden its intake. ‘We do not believe there is a big enough supply of very able pupils among the wealthiest families in Britain. Secondly, we do not like the idea of Harrow being a very exclusive school’ he said.

Harrow already has similar offshoots in Thailand and China, and has also opened a £60m appeal to subsidise places.

Dulwich College, Oxford High School for girls and Brighton College are among other schools planning to expand abroad.

Nick Dutt, a Dubai-based British business expert recently told Arabian Business that the next five years will see a boom in the number of UK-based educational establishments in the UAE. ‘British education is still regarded very highly around the world and we’ve got a lot of universities coming here now. There are also the vocational trades and we are heavily involved in various areas of the financial services sector’ he said.

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