The global international schools market is predicted to see yet more significant growth in 2014 and into the future. The latest figures published by The International School Consultancy Group indicate that by the end of this year there will be 7,200 international schools teaching over 3.7million students using English as the language for learning.

It is good news for a market that has been growing steadily for the past ten years and which, in 2013 generated $34 billion/£20.7 billion in annual fee income alone. The latest forecast from The International School Consultancy Group (ISC), the only research organisation in the world that focuses exclusively on the international schools market and which has been doing so for the past 25 years, suggests even more growth potential.

80% of the demand for places at international schools now comes from wealthy local parents who want their children to receive a quality, English-speaking education in order to access the best options for university and higher education. This is a significant change from twenty years ago when international school places were dominated by expatriate students. Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of ISC explains the effect of this change in demographics: “Today there is a massive demand for English-speaking education all over the world. The future growth of international schools is now very much dependent on how many people can afford to pay international school fees,” he says.

China has 200 million school-aged children and a rapidly growing middle class (including at least two and a half million US$ millionaires), and an increasing number of these families are demanding an international education.  Developments in China’s international schools market are going some way towards meeting this rise in demand.  In particular, the formation of Chinese-foreign cooperation programmes to create international schools which will enrol both Chinese nationals and foreign students, has created new possibilities.  The potential for growth of international schools in China looks enormous.  If this potential is realised, growth in China is likely to dwarf growth in any other country.

In addition to China,  ISC says that several countries in East and South East Asia (including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong) and the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar) are growing rapidly, and parts of South America (such as Brazil) also have great potential. “The numbers of students in the international schools in Southern Asian countries are also huge,” says Brummitt, “But, to date, fee levels at the international schools there are too low to attract many of the major operators. This may well change within the next five years.”

As well as individual international schools under development, several UK independent schools and a number of the proprietary schools groups which own multiple international schools have plans to expand their brands significantly in the next few years. ISC currently knows of 180 international schools planned and under construction.

ISC predicts that within ten years there will be over 11,000 international schools teaching 6.3million students.

The International School Consultancy Group (ISC) has been delivering independent market intelligence on the world’s English-medium international schools market for over 25 years. It is the only research organisation in the world that focuses exclusively on the international schools market.

For more information visit www.iscresearch.com


  • ISC Research includes a school on its international schools database if it delivers a curriculum to any combination of infant, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country. There are exceptions to this. For example, American schools in the UK, British schools in America, and also schools in countries such as India, Pakistan and several in Africa where English is one of the official languages. Schools in these English-speaking countries are included if they offer an international curriculum.
  • ISC provides a range of services to meet the market intelligence needs of schools, higher education, school suppliers, investors, developers and professionals involved with international education. These include an online data service, market intelligence reports, bespoke data, and personal representation with the world’s premier international schools.