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’’.
The 24 best universities in the world
The 24 best universities in the world
1/24 24. University of Edinburgh, UK — 80.3
Founded in 1583, Edinburgh is the sixth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. Extremely notable alumni include Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell, and Arthur Conan-Doyle
2/24 23. London School of Economics, UK — 81.3
Leaping 11 places from last year, LSE is one of the foremost universities in Europe for studying business, finance, and economics. This shows in its graduates: According to a 2014 study, LSE produced the most billionaires of any European university
3/24 22. Carnegie Mellon University, US — 82.3
“My heart is in the work” is CMU's motto, and it's accordingly known for many inventions and innovations in the fields of driverless cars, brain science, data, and more. It was also, curiously, the first university to create a “smile” in an email, in 1982
4/24 21. University of Michigan, US — 82.4
One of the biggest research centres in the US, Michigan was attended by President Ford and Google cofounder Larry Page. Mysteriously, a large cube-shaped object sits on campus, balanced on one corner so students can spin it around despite its weight
5/24 20. Duke University, US — 82.7
One of the wealthiest universities in the country, Duke is known for its sporting prowess as much as its academics, and its basketball squad is one of the best college teams in the US. President Richard Nixon graduated from here, as did future heads of Apple, JPMorgan, and PepsiCo
6/24 19. University of Toronto, Canada — 83.9
A university known for its research and innovation, Toronto has academic papers that are among the most cited in the world. It also has a wide array of extracurricular activities, with more than 800 student clubs, which probably explains why such a high proportion of its alumni begin startup companies
7/24 18. Cornell University, US — 84.0
A private Ivy League university with a mission to “discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge,” Cornell boasts a glorious campus in upstate New York that allows students to hike around the Finger Lakes. It also has daily bell performances, a tradition dating back to 1868
8/24 17. University of Pennsylvania, US — 85.2
Established before the US even became a sovereign nation, UPenn claims to be the oldest multifaculty university in the country. It also has the nation's oldest student union and first “double-decker” football stand. Noted alumni include President William Henry Harrison as well as modernist writers Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams
9/24 16. University of California at Los Angeles, US — 85.8
UCLA is known for its encouragement of community — undergraduates usually begin with a year-long “Cluster Course,” a team-taught exploration of a demanding topic. It also has a great student-exchange program, with more than 2,400 students going abroad each year
10/24 15. Columbia University, US — 86.1
Notable alumni of Manhattan-based Columbia include Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt as well as a founding father — Alexander Hamilton. It also enjoys a massive endowment value of $9.6 billion last year
11/24 14. University College London, UK — 87.1
Founded in 1826, UCL became the first English university to admit women on equal terms as men in 1878. UCL has one of the biggest postgraduate schemes in the country, at 52% of the entire student body
12/24 13. University of California at Berkeley, US — 87.2
Dropping five places from last year, Berkeley is still hugely prestigious, and its San Francisco setting makes it a real draw for students looking to study in a vibrant city. It also has a legacy for activism: Some of the best-known Vietnam War protests took place on its campus during the 1960s and 1970s
13/24 12. Yale University, US — 87.4
The third-oldest higher-education institution in the US, Yale takes its cue from Oxford and Cambridge by having residential colleges. Five American presidents have studied there: William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Make that six if Hillary Clinton wins this year's election
14/24 11. Johns Hopkins University, US — 87.6
Johns Hopkins was an abolitionist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, and he was also the first benefactor of the school, which was founded in 1876. Based in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University's notable alumni include Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US president
15/24 10. University of Chicago, US — 87.9
A leading centre of science, the University of Chicago also has prestigious literary alumni, including Saul Bellow and Susan Sontag. It is also the university where film icon Indiana Jones studied
16/24 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich, Switzerland — 88.3
Jumping four places from 2015, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is known for its groundbreaking research as well as teaching excellence in natural sciences and technology. Twenty-one Nobel laureates have studied or taught at the university, while about 80 patent applications a year come from there
17/24 8. Imperial College London, UK — 89.1
Up a place from last year, Imperial is known for its pursuit of science. Its Central London setting also makes it popular to foreign students — 51% of its student body are from overseas. The university's motto is “Scientia imperii decus et tutamen,” which means “Scientific knowledge, the crowning glory and the safeguard of the empire”
18/24 7. Princeton University, US — 90.1
Princeton is devoted to teaching, offering residential accommodation to undergraduates across all four years of study, which means 98% of them live on campus. The beautiful surroundings are attractive to tourists too: 800,00 people visit the campus each year, bringing in a revenue of $2 billion
19/24 6. Harvard University, US — 91.6
Down four places from last year, Harvard is still one of the world's most prestigious institutions. It's the oldest university in the US, and it also has one of the largest endowments of any on this list, raising $1.5 billion in 2013
20/24 5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US — 92.0
Eighty-five Nobel Laureates have studied at MIT, which was founded in 1861. The university likes to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, and its living alumni have apparently started more than 30,000 active companies
21/24 4. University of Cambridge, UK — 92.8
Up a place from last year, Cambridge isn't quite as old as Oxford University, but with an 800-year history it is still one of the longest-running universities in the world. It has more than 100 libraries, with over 15 million books among them
22/24 3. Stanford University, US — 93.9
One of the largest campuses in the US, Stanford benefits from being right next to San Francisco's Silicon Valley. President Herbert Hoover was part of Stanford's first class, in 1895, while the first American woman to enter space, Sally Ride, graduated from there in 1973
23/24 2. University of Oxford, UK — 94.2
Oxford moves up one place from last year to become the best university outside the US. For an institution that was reportedly founded in 1096, that's a remarkable run. It also boasts 30 world leaders among its alumni, including 26 British prime ministers
24/24 1. California Institute of Technology, US — 95.2
The best university in the world for the second year in a row according to the Times, Caltech is at the top in teaching, industry income, research, and citations in 2016. It is renowned for its science and engineering courses, but any degree here is sure to be a winner
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."Reuse content