More students, bilingual education, school groups and UK curriculum in the international schools market this year

At the ISC Research Edruptors Conference, ISC Research released new data and shifts happening within the world’s international schools market.

As of June 2021, there are now 12,281 international schools teaching 5.66 million students, employing 549,000 teaching staff and generating $53.5 billion from fee income. Over the last ten years, enrolment of students at international schools has seen a compound annual growth rate of 4.8%. In the last year, student enrolment within the international schools sector has increased by 49,800.



Asia continues to dominate the international schools market with 64% of all student enrolment; the two dominant sub-regions being Western Asia (the Middle East) with 1.72 million students following international curricula and/or learning in the language of English, and Southern Asia where 659,000 are doing the same. A UK oriented curriculum is the most popular offered by 52% of all international schools, and 34% of all international schools serving 16-18 year olds are working toward A or international A level qualifications.

Bilingual international schools have experienced a 7.9% compound annual growth rate since 2011 with 34% of all international schools now offering bilingual or multi-lingual learning.

There has been significant growth in the number of international school groups, from 332 school groups five years ago, to 576 today. Between them, they enrol 35% of all international school students. Although there is much publicity about independent school brands within the international school sector, they are a small sector of the market in comparison to the groups, enrolling just 1.45% of all international school students. International schools that fall into a mid-market fee point (which varies from country to country) currently enrol 24% of all international school students.

Market development shifts include international schools offering boarding facilities, Chinese brand schools that offer bilingual learning and international curricula expanding outside China, a shift of South Korean and Chinese families relocating to South East Asia and seeking international education solutions there, a rise in applications from students with special educational needs, and a growth in online international schools.

There are significant shifts within the international schools market relating to teaching and learning, education technology and recruitment, many of which have been triggered by influences related to COVID-19.

ISC Research will be publishing its International Schools Annual Market Report 2021 this August detailing these and other market developments.

ISC Research tracks the world’s international schools market and is the recognised source of data and intelligence on developments, trends and shifts within the English-medium, independent international K-12 schools sector.