The number of English-medium international schools around the world has reached 8,000.

According to a 2014 report by the British Council and the University of Oxford, the desire to learn in the language of English is a ‘growing global phenomenon’. It is one of the reasons why the number of English-medium international schools (teaching children aged from 3-18) has reached 8,000 and continues to expand at pace.

Data published this October by ISC Research (part of The International School Consultancy) indicates that there are now over 8,000 international schools teaching 4.26 million students. By 2025, ISC Research predicts there will be at least 15,000 English-medium international schools teaching over 8 million students.

The reason for their increasing popularity is that international schools provide an English-medium education, often with globally recognised curricula, and high standards of learning and teaching.  For many parents, local as well as expatriate, this is considered an important educational route; one through which their child can gain a place at a western university, well prepared in language, qualifications, and a western-style of learning.  Karen McKellin, Executive Director of International Student Initiatives at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada says: “International schools are a very important market for us. Their students meet all of our requirements; they are well prepared to mix and participate, they have very good facility of English language, and they’ve been exposed to internationally recognised curricula.”  Typical of an increasing number of universities today, a significant percentage of the transnational undergraduate students (70% in the case of UBC) originate from English-medium international schools.

According to ISC Research, which has tracked and analysed data on the world’s international schools for over 20 years, the market has grown dramatically since the year 2000. This year’s ISC Market Intelligence Country Reports for several countries, including the UAE and Hong Kong, state that demand for places at many of the leading international schools exceeds supply with long waiting lists. In Dubai alone, 21 new English-medium international schools are due to open over the next two years.

The international schools market in China is also attracting attention. Strict restrictions stop local children attending the traditional international schools for expatriates in China (known as Schools for Children of Foreign Workers). However, Chinese-owned international schools, which can accept local Chinese students, are now emerging. These schools are often partnered with a recognised independent school brand from the UK or US to support the delivery of a western learning ethos and approach.

“In many developing countries, English-medium international schools are growing in popularity, and several governments are including planned international school development within their economic transformation programmes,” says Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of ISC Research. “The market is looking extremely healthy.”


For more details please contact:

Anne Keeling
Media Relations and Marketing
ISC Research Ltd
The International School Consultancy
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