Some top UK independent schools, including Harrow, plan to licence their institutions in India and elsewhere.
The Harrow school is considering licensing five schools in India, China and other South East Asian countries to fund up to 200 free and subsidised places at its school here.
The move coincides with government threats to withdraw charitable status from independent schools, worth a total of 100 million pounds a year, unless they can demonstrate "public benefit".
Wellington college, Dulwich college and Oxford high school for girls are among the other independents planning to cash in on the high reputation of British private education to open chains of franchises.
There are already Harrow International offshoots in Thailand and China. Barnaby Lenon, the head master is reluctant to give details of predicted earnings but he would need to generate about five million pounds a year to fund 200 free places.
Annual fees at the school are 24,825 pounds. The school has also opened a 60 million pounds appeal to subsidize places.
"We would only do it if it were advantageous for Harrow UK," said Lenon told The Sunday Times.
"There is a risk that you can fall out with the owner because we do not own the schools. Things can and do go wrong... The risk is to the name."
He said that Harrow's main motive was to broaden the social mix of its intake because "We do not believe there is a big enough supply of very able pupils among the wealthiest families in Britain. Secondly, we do not like the idea of Harrow being a very exclusive school."
Oxford high school, a girls' school, is opening two offshoots in Shanghai, with Chinese partners, by 2009. One will teach the Chinese curriculum to Chinese pupils, the other will be an international school.