Three months after China issued a regulation banning all for-profit tutoring within its borders, Chinese tutoring giant VIPKid is terminating its signature education program for students in the Chinese market, the company told EdWeek Market Brief.
The company primarily offers one-on-one tutoring sessions between native English speakers and children in China.
Now, to comply with the Chinese government’s “double-reduction policy,” VIPKid is ending classes with teachers outside the Chinese mainland for K-12 students in the Chinese mainland.
China’s tutoring policy prohibits any off-campus tutoring focused on what the Chinese government defines as core curriculum. One of the policy’s provisions states that tutoring companies cannot employ foreign tutors to teach students based in China.
In addition to VIPKid’s decision to stop providing English tutoring in China, other education companies have chosen to pivot away from core curriculum and offer educational services in non-core areas like calligraphy and drama to comply with China’s tutoring regulation.
Researchers and lawyers who work on trade issues between U.S. and China say the double-reduction policy likely stems from a desire by the Chinese government to restrict foreign influence in teaching and learning and to exert more autonomy over the country’s education system.
VIPKid, which was valued at $3 billion just a few years ago, hopes to bring new users onto its platform by launching a new global English platform for students and teachers, the company said.
The company during the last year has piloted several education programs outside China’s borders that helped the company build “a solid base of tens of thousands of students outside of the Chinese mainland, taking English classes,” VIPKid said.
“We are accelerating and expanding our efforts on these programs day in and day out.”
Moonlighting American Teachers
VIPKid’s cessation of employing foreign teachers to tutor China-based students could result in many American teachers losing extra income.
As Education Week reported in a story a few years ago, many U.S. teachers, frustrated with their salaries, had turned to teaching Chinese students online as a source of additional income.
Those teachers often led online lessons early in the morning or during other off-hours, when they weren’t in their traditional classrooms for their day jobs. In 2018, over 60,000 American and Canadian tutors worked for VIPKid.
The company said it remains committed to creating opportunities for online educators.
“While VIPKid’s next chapter may look different, we remain confident in our future and steadfast in our mission to inspire and empower every child for the future,” Head of U.S. Operations Kevyn Klein said in an email.
“Our dedication to creating opportunities for online educators is stronger than ever, which is why we’re accelerating our international expansion efforts, broadening the reach for teachers to teach students globally.”