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The latest figures published by ISC Research show that the number of children attending the world’s international schools has passed three million. This is phenomenal growth in just ten years. In 2002 there were one million international school students. It is this increasing demand for places which is driving the rapid expansion of international schools worldwide; a trend that ISC Research predicts will continue for the foreseeable future.
Ten years ago, the typical international school student was from an expatriate family. Today, that student is from a local family. The number of expatriate children attending international schools has not decreased, indeed there are many more . What has changed is the recognition by local families that international schools are a means of advancing to further education at some of the world’s best universities. “Parents of the next generation are looking towards international schools to satisfy the need for critical thinking rather than learning by rote,” says Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem which owns and manages 13 schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “The parents clearly see international schools as a route through for university opportunities.” It is this recognition, coupled with increased income, which is making attendance at an international school a real possibility for the wealthier local families. Today 80% of students at international schools are local children.
In a number of cities, this demand from both expat and local families, is outstripping supply. Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha all have significant problems. So much so, that many relocating expats with families are now demanding security of their school places before accepting new placements. In certain locations, it is the availability of good school places that is driving job decisions by expats rather than salaries and destinations. As a result of this demand, a number of countries are actively encouraging the growth of international schools including China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and the UAE.
International schools are typically fee-paying schools that deliver the curriculum wholly or partly in English (outside an English-speaking country). The good quality of learning at international schools is recognised the world over. Many of these schools follow, to a large extent, the English National Curriculum. Others deliver such highly respected international curricula as the International Baccalaureate and the International Primary Curriculum. Others deliver alternative national curricula such as American or Dutch. The best international schools have extremely good reputations, are accredited, and are used as models by national schools the world over.
ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide predicts that the number of students in international schools will reach six million in another ten years and that the number of international schools will increase from 6,000 today to 10,000.
Managing Director of ISC Research, Nicholas Brummitt, says “The international school market has become big business. There are now a number of highly respected, multinational groups of schools driving growth forward. Examples of these are Taaleem with schools throughout the UAE and partnerships in other Middle East countries, WCL with schools in the US and Qatar, Nord Anglia with schools in China and Europe, Cognita with schools in the UK, Europe and Asia, ESOL with schools in a number of Middle East countries, Yew Chung Education Foundation with schools in Hong Kong, China and the US, and GEMS with schools in many parts of the world. Most of these groups are expanding aggressively, either by buying existing schools, expanding current operations, or building new schools. There are also schools with campuses in several countries. These include a number of UK private schools with international operations such as Harrow (in Beijing, Bangkok with a third school in Hong Kong opening in September this year) and Dulwich which has schools in China and is opening several more in Asia over the next few years.”
For more information about the international schools market visit www.iscresearch.com. ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world’s English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research.
For more information about what it is like to work at many of these international schools, make sure to visit www.internationschoolcommunity.com