It looks like a swish riverside resort, but promises the best of British education. Its corridors and courtyards are shiny and new, but the boast is of a direct link to a 450-year-old heritage, and of old boys such as naturalist Charles Darwin and the poet Sir Philip Sydney. Shrewsbury International School Bangkok is the latest in a line of 'franchises' of venerable English public schools to open up shop in Thailand. It's a style of education which appears to be in big demand among both expatriate and Thai parents if the school's enrolments are anything to go by. Headmaster Stuart Morris, who 'defected' from rival school Harrow to take up the reins at Shrewsbury, said the 765 students who applied for seats ahead of the school opening its doors in September were a Thai record. 'This is an extraordinarily high number, given that the most successful opening of any international school in Bangkok in the last 10 years has involved fewer than 100 pupils,' he said. Indeed, more than a year before the opening, hundreds of parents had already signed their children up, happy to fork out tuition fees ranging from 200,000 baht (HK$38,960) to 400,000 baht a year. Property tycoon Chali Sophonpanich - the son of Bangkok Bank supremo Chatri Sophonpanich - believes an increasing number of parents are fed up with the country's ailing education system. He has pumped about two billion baht into building the school, which sits on around 10 acres of prime riverfront land off New Road near Sathorn Bridge. 'It's a viable alternative for quality education to travelling abroad to study, and it saves foreign exchange,' he said. By the time a who's who of Bangkok gathered for the official opening ceremony last month some 700 students from pre-schoolers to sixth-formers were already attending classes. 'Instead of starting classes first for the early years and then growing year by year with the children, like other schools, Shrewsbury has managed to attract sufficient interest from all ages to start at least one class per year,' Morris said. According to Chali, the school will comfortably accommodate about 1,500 students when it is operating at capacity. Its teachers, he adds, are top drawer, and the facilities are state-of-the-art, including an 800-seat theatre, three swimming pools, music and arts centres and a fully-equipped sports centre. He believes it will be profitable in the long run. His company also owns another four acres next to the school property, which will be developed into high-end housing for well-heeled parents who want to be able to walk their children to school. Sir David Harrison, chairman of Shrewsbury School UK's governing body, and the UK school's headmaster, Jeremy Goulding, will both serve on the Bangkok school's board of governors to facilitate student and teacher exchanges and education quality control. Sir David says the Bangkok school will follow its sister school's tradition of training students to be 'good citizens of the world' who can go on to study at top universities or colleges anywhere.