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Vipkid has ended new local classes taught by foreign-based tutors to comply with regulations. Photo: Handout

Vipkid the latest Chinese education firm to cut student access to overseas tutors to comply with new policy

  • Vipkid will make a dramatic pivot in its business by switching to courses taught by Chinese tutors or licensed foreign teachers in China
  • The new policy means it will be difficult for Chinese students to access overseas teachers and unsanctioned foreign training materials

Chinese education firm Vipkid, famous for connecting domestic students with English tutors overseas, has stopped renewing contracts for such courses to comply with Beijing’s strict new policy on after-school tutoring.

It is preparing alternative courses such as English taught by Chinese tutors or licensed foreign teachers in China, according to a statement on Vipkid’s social media accounts. Over the weekend, it ended new local classes taught by foreign-based tutors, and starting Monday no longer accepted tuition fee renewals.

The moves comply with Beijing’s latest regulations on private tutoring, issued in late July, that ban companies from hiring teachers based overseas to teach students in China. However, Vipkid’s international business for students living outside China is not affected.

China-based foreign teachers can also continue to teach, but their qualifications will be screened.

“Vipkid will continue to be with you,” the company said in its announcement, displaying a determination to survive under the harsh new regulatory environment.

Chinese provinces push specific measures for off-campus tutoring market

The eight-year-old start-up, which raised about US$1 billion in nine rounds, has also seen its dream of going public dashed, as the new regulations restrict tutoring companies from raising funds or seeking initial public offerings.

Vipkid’s investors include Tencent Holdings, Sequoia China, Jack Ma’s Yun Feng Capital and Kobe Bryant’s Bryant Stibel. Ma is the founder of Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the South China Morning Post.

Vipkid is the latest player in the off-campus tutoring industry to make a dramatic pivot in their business.

TikTok owner ByteDance, which called education “a strategic new business direction” last year, is firing thousands of employees and has pulled two products, NPY and Gogokid, the latter of which was similar to Vipkid.

Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on private tutoring has effectively killed company founder Zhang Yiming’s dream to build an extensive, sustainable private education empire, the Post reported earlier.

One consequence of the new policy is that it will become more difficult for Chinese students to access overseas teachers and unsanctioned foreign training materials.

Overseas-based language-learning apps such as Duolingo, Memrise and Beelinguapp, have also all disappeared from some of China’s biggest Android app stores to comply with the new rules.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Firm stops English classes in China by overseas tutors