UK private schools are targeting China to boost enrolment, the annual census report from the Independent Schools Council (ISC) revealed this week. Latest figures show the number of new pupils from the mainland to have increased by 26 per cent over the past year to 965. The surge in interest confirmed China as 'one of the most rapidly growing areas of overseas recruitment', the report said. Local education consultant Ruth Rimmer, managing director of Dolphin UK Education Limited, said she was not surprised by the increase. 'We get a lot of enquiries from the mainland. The idea is that the children go to the best schools, then the best universities and go back to China with the best qualifications,' she said. 'It is seen as a huge investment.' Meanwhile, the number of students from Hong Kong increased by 3.6 per cent, accounting for more than a quarter of new overseas recruits last year. Overall, the number of foreign pupils joining ISC member schools rose to 8,344, up 4.4 per cent on 2001. The ISC represents 80 per cent of all schools in the independent sector.