EdTech Firm Fires 60,000 in Worst Cuts Since China Crackdown

EdTech Firm Fires 60,000 in Worst Cuts Since China Crackdown


New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. fired tens of thousands of employees, the biggest layoffs disclosed since China embarked on a wide-ranging crackdown on private enterprises more than a year ago.

Yu Minhong, founder and chairman of the Chinese tutoring giant, revealed in a WeChat post over the weekend that the company dismissed 60,000 workers in 2021 and saw revenue fall 80% after ending all K-9 tutoring services following Beijing’s overhaul of the the $100 billion after-school education sector last July. Even after the cuts, the company still has about 50,000 employees and teachers, Yu said in a separate post Monday.

The revelation underscores the widespread disruption wrought by Beijing’s unprecedented decision last summer to outlaw profits in swathes of the after-school education industry — upending a market estimated at $100 billion at its peak. The three biggest operators in the space — including New Oriental and TAL Education Group — together once employed more than 170,000 but total numbers are estimated in the millions given the hundreds of private firms that vied for students in a fragmented and under-regulated arena.

“In 2021, New Oriental encountered too many unforeseen events from factors such as policy, the pandemic, and international relations,” Yu wrote. “Much of our business remains in a state of uncertainty.”