International schools on a high

The international schools market has expanded significantly this year, providing English-speaking education for many more children

Data on the market today has been published in a brand new annual Global Report about the international schools market launched by UK-based International School Consultancy Group (ISC), the only organisation in the world that researches and publishes current, future and historic data on the entire international schools market.

According to the 2014 ISC Global Report, during the 2013-2014 academic year, the number of students aged between 3 and 18 attending international schools increased from 3.3 million (in May 2013) to 3.6 million (May 2014). The demand for places, particularly those in non-English-speaking countries, continues to be driven by two expanding sectors; local families and expatriates. Of those enrolled in international schools today, the largest number are local students, many of whose parents hope that a quality, English-speaking education will get their children a place at an English-speaking university.

Over the 2013-2014 academic year, families of international school students have paid USD 36 billion in tuition fees alone. The report suggests that demand and investment in English-speaking international school education by parents around the world will continue to rise year on year.

This year has seen a fight for places at the best international schools in several countries in Asia, including Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. Demand is extensive in Singapore and Qatar, and has the potential to soar in China if government restrictions are relaxed in any way. 

Amongst the many developments this year, UK independent schools have continued to strengthen their presence internationally.  Other significant developments include the announcement by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority that it is planning for 90,000 additional international school places over the next five years, there is continued expansion of government-sponsored international education hubs in Malaysia, a rise in debentures and capital levies in response to huge demand for international schools places in Hong Kong, and a major expansion of bilingual schools (where English is one of the languages of learning), particularly in South America.

UK-based curricula continue to have the largest share of the market, but international options, notably the International Baccalaureate, have also gained ground.

“The global international schools market has flourished since the turn of the century,” says the 2014 ISC Global Report. “Enrolment has grown by 8.4% per annum and total annual tuition fee income by 12.5% per annum since 2009. Many factors have driven this growth, and those factors are still in place, ensuring that growth will continue.”

“It’s been a very successful year for international schools,” commented Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of the International School Consultancy Group. “Investment and development in the market continues to rise.  As a result, there will be a significant number of new international schools opening this August. Many others will have completed extensive expansion work ready for the new school year.”

Within five years, says the 2014 ISC Global Report, there will be over five million students around the world studying in international schools.

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