Nobel Goes International

Published February 1, 2001

Nobel Learning Communities Inc., the largest operator of private schools in the United States, recently formed a strategic partnership with South Ocean Development Corporation, the largest operator of private schools in China. The intent of the two companies is to collaborate on the establishment of proprietary preschools and K-12 schools in China.

Initially, the agreement calls for linkage of the two private school systems via the Internet to permit information exchange and as a prelude to establishing teacher and student exchange programs between the two nations. According to Katherine Rynearson of, the companies are developing plans for opening a private international school in Beijing aimed at enrolling children from expatriate and elite Chinese families.

Rynearson notes that the Chinese school system is the largest in the world, with 243 million students in more than 890,000 schools. Some 42,000 private schools serve 6.5 million students, with South Ocean educating 20,000 students annually in seven private schools and two colleges. The company is experiencing high demand for its services despite an annual tuition of $3,000–roughly 20 percent of the average family’s salary.

“South Ocean Development Group is building a empire of private schools that funnel students from preschools, primary and secondary schools into new private universities,” says Rynearson. “While 85 percent of the country’s private schools are preschools, South Ocean has primarily focused on the expanding market for K-12 and postsecondary boarding schools.”