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Thursday, 19 July 2018

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International Schools Pave Way to Higher Education

By Anne Keeling


International Schools Pave Way to Higher Education
A report published by ISC Research this month shows the opportunities that English-medium international schools provide as a route to higher education.

The study queried over 300 college counselors from a range of international schools around the world to identify the higher education destination choices of Grade 12 international school students and what influenced their selection.

Students achieve well above average

American, British, and International Baccalaureate curricula and qualifications are recognized by most universities around the world and dominate the international schools market; these are delivered by approximately 80 percent of all the schools. According to the report, students at English-medium international schools achieved notably higher grades than the global average for the 2016 year in all three examination types.

Of the schools researched, the average point score achieved in the IB Diploma by international school students was 33.2, compared to a global average of 30.07. For students taking Advanced Placement, 76 percent of international school students achieved examination scores greater than 3, compared to 57.9 percent worldwide. And for A Levels, the percentage of international school students achieving A or A* grades was 30.6 percent, compared to a U.K. average of 25.8 percent.

Degree choices are far and wide

Ninety-one percent of international schools considered by ISC Research said that over 90 percent of their students pursue higher education, seeking out a wide breadth of undergraduate degree subjects, universities, and countries.

According to the research, international school students don’t just consider the obvious higher education destinations of the U.K. or U.S. Several universities and colleges in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, the Netherlands, U.A.E, Mexico, and Colombia were included within the top 50 destinations of Grade 12 international school students from the 2015–2016 year.

This extent of choice suggests students are well informed as to the wide range of undergraduate options available to them. The report states that direct and impartial support from college counselors employed by many international schools helps to guide students to the best solutions for their individual needs, and the diverse international demographics of the students and staff at international schools opens eyes and minds to higher education possibilities the world over.

The report also highlights positive and negative factors currently influencing destination choice, including cost, location, quality of education, subject focus, political implications, visa challenges, scholarship potential, and subject flexibility. For the four most popular higher education destinations (U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia), it assesses the impact of these factors on students’ final university selection.

Wealth and educational aspiration fuel demand

Also published this month, the ISC Research 2018 Global Report on the world’s K–12 international schools market shows that the number of schools delivering learning in the language of English and following an international curriculum has grown by 29 percent from September 2013 to September 2017 (by 255 percent since the year 2000). The number of students attending these schools has increased by 33 percent over the same period (by 406 percent in the last 17 years). It identifies the reliable pathway to higher education as one of the major causes for such growth.

There are two reasons for such market expansion; global commerce and increased wealth. “Globalization has provided the stimulus for much of the development in the international schools market,” states the new report. “Massive investment by Western businesses, especially in Asian economies, has resulted in substantial growth in the number of highly skilled and well-paid expatriates. As a consequence, there has been a large rise in demand for international schooling from expatriate communities,” it says.

In addition, the rapid growth of many economies, especially in Asia, has generated a vast increase in the amount of individual wealth among local families in those countries. In China, for example, the report states there are around 1.6 million millionaires (in US$) and nearly 650 billionaires. “Many families have high aspirations for their children and want them to receive the best education, which usually means enrolling them abroad for their schooling or at international schools in their home countries, followed by undergraduate studies at Western universities,” continues the report. “The scale of the increase in individual wealth has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of local families who can afford international school tuition fees, leading to a comparable increase in demand for places at international schools.”

Most countries that have seen the highest growth of international schools in recent years are in Asia; most notably China. According to the ISC Global Report, India looks set to follow suit as the country develops. Few international schools charging high fees currently exist in India. “But increasing affluence in the big cities [in India] is generating more interest from foreign schools,” says the report. Several countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America are also predicted to see more international schools open as their economies develop.

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