Huge global demand for English-medium K-12 education

Special summer offer for BESA members from The International School Consultancy

The insatiable appetite for English-medium, Western-style education for children continues to expand around the world. The new 2016 Global Report on the English-medium K-12 international schools market published by The International School Consultancy (ISC Research) indicates that the number of international schools in many countries is rising rapidly. This offers extensive opportunities for British education suppliers looking for market expansion and diversification.

The 2016 ISC Research Global Report states that the number of English-medium K-12 schools (which includes British and American schools overseas, and British independent schools abroad) has increased by 41.5% in the past five years to a current total of 8,257. The number of students attending international schools is now over 4.3 million; a 45.9% growth in just five years. Asia (including Western Asia; the Middle East) has seen the greatest increase in students during this time with a 55.7% growth. Asia now has 54% of all international schools (4,448) and 60% of all students (2.55 million).

Growing demand for Western education

The number of students studying at international schools in their home countries continues to increase. This means that more families are selecting a fee-paying international school in preference to the local national school. The main reasons for this choice are to enable children to learn in the language of English, to obtain globally recognised qualifications (predominantly A levels, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme or America’s SATs, ACT or Advanced Placement), and to follow a Western-style of learning. This learning experience provides the most reliable pathway to gaining a place at a reputable university.

Countries leading the market

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China lead the world in terms of number of schools; UAE has 548 schools and China has 547. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have the highest number of students;  564,200 and 265,400 respectively.

In several countries where government policies restricting local children from attending international schools have been relaxed or removed altogether, this has resulted in a dramatic increase in demand for school places. This has been particularly notable in Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea. In Malaysia, where some schools are currently experiencing a significant loss of expatriate children because of the oil and gas crisis, high demand from local families for school places has helped to keep enrolment high.

In China where, by law, local children are not allowed to attend foreign-owned international schools, new types of international schools are now emerging, catering specifically for Chinese nationals. Current international school growth in China is being fuelled entirely by the local market and producing an unprecedented increase in the number of Chinese-owned private bilingual schools.

Enrolment in Latin America is also on the rise, led by Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Many schools are adopting a bilingual approach (where English is one of the languages of learning) and offering an international curriculum (most often the International Baccalaureate) in response to demand from local families.

A healthy market

The average annual tuition fee at international schools globally has dropped for the fourth year in succession, to an average of $9,330. According to the Global Report this is 0.2% lower than in 2011. However, total annual fee income for the K-12 international schools market has increased by 45.9% over the last five years to $39 billion as a result of the huge market expansion, making this a significant and healthy market for education suppliers.

The future continues to look extremely good for the international school sector, and for future investment within the market. ISC Research forecasts that by 2026, the K-12 international school market will reach 16,000 schools teaching 8.75 million students, and generating a total fee income of $89 billion.

Special summer offer for BESA Members

More data, trends and intelligence on the world’s international schools market is available in the new 2016 ISC Research Global Market Report.  All current data on international schools is also available from The International School Consultancy through ISC Online which enables education suppliers to identify, search, filter and connect directly with the right international schools for their business.   ISC is currently offering BESA members the chance to benefit from ISC Online free of charge during the summer months. Simply order a one-year ISC Online licence before the end of July 2016 and ISC will extend your licence to September 1st 2017 giving you chance this summer to prepare in the best possible way for your international sales and marketing efforts for the new academic year. For more information about the Global Report or ISC Online contact Jack Hodges at jh@isc-r.com or call him directly at 01367 246022 and ask for the BESA member offer.