Is China in the Market For Struggling, Closed HBCU Campuses?

Last December, Xinhua Education Investment Corp. purchased more than 130 acres and 30 buildings belonging to the former historically black Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va.

Today, Inside Higher Ed reports on how that sale may have been the early signals of Chinese companies taking advantage of America’s declining higher education industry for property acquisition and academic business development in the states.

…more broadly there appears to be substantial interest on the part of Chinese companies in purchasing U.S. campuses or other educational properties. Chinese students make up the largest group of international students in the U.S., both at the university and K-12 levels.

Douglas Halliday, the president and founder of Halliday Acquisition Group, a company that consults on mergers and acquisitions involving K-12 schools and postsecondary colleges in the U.S. and Canada, said the majority of interest he sees from buyers in mainland China or Hong Kong is in either acquiring K-12 boarding schools or career-focused colleges that focus on higher-trained, technician-type programs such as in health care or information technology.

Several HBCU campuses, including Barber-Scotia College, Knoxville College and Morris Brown College face an uncertain future with sales as a very real possibility to satisfy debts.

With other black colleges facing similar issues but not yet approaching bankruptcy or accreditation loss, more schools could be targeted for sale or auction, with Chinese companies at the front of the line seeking acquisition opportunities in areas where HBCUs hold industrial specialty.

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