Two colleges in the North-west will use the Internet to exchange teaching materials on subjects including telecommunications, computing and business studies with two vocational schools and a university in China, backed up with visits by teachers and trainers.
The three-year collaboration, involving Accrington and Rossendale College and Wirral Metropolitan College, could pave the way for further partnerships, according to the Association of Colleges, which hosted the visit by the seven-strong delegation.
The group, returning a visit by UK college representatives last year, was impressed by the involvement of business in education.
Liu Laiquan, head of vocational education at China's state education commission, said: "Companies in China are already going some way to link up with vocational colleges but they need to do more."
The Chinese further education system dwarfs its British equivalent. A total of 17,000 vocational schools educate 9.5 million students aged 16 to 18.