SOHO China sees little impact from property curbs
SOHO CEO Zhang Xin of China attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 26, 2011. Reuters

A Chinese billionaire couple has been criticised for shunning local Chinese universities by donating approximately £9 million (€11.4m) to US Ivy League University, Harvard.

Pan Shiyi, one of China's wealthiest and most distinguished bloggers, with more than 17 million followers on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, allegedly made the donation along with his wife Zhang Xin.

The couple, behind the real estate giant SOHO China, have set up the £59 million 'SOHO China Scholarships' fund to help disadvantaged Chinese students get into top universities around the world.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Zhang said that 'SOHO China Scholarships' are aimed at empowering the less-well-off Chinese students to apply and study abroad.

Some users of Sina Weibo questioned the motives behind the couple's decision to export Chinese students when they could instead be investing in education in China while others said the move would have no effect.

"It doesn't matter... The rise of China and Chinese higher education is historically inevitable," said one user.

In response to the criticism, Zhang said on her Weibo account that unless the less well off students are funded, good education will be reserved for the wealthy. "Our scholarships will change this phenomenon," said Zhang.

Chinese students make up the majority of international students in the US with China being the single source country providing over a quarter of all foreign students, according to the Institute of International Education.