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International Ed Options Increase as Higher Ed Aspirations Rise

By Anne Keeling
International Ed Options Increase as Higher Ed Aspirations Rise

The 2018 Global Report on the International Schools Market from ISC Research, published this September, states there are now 9,605 English-medium international schools worldwide; an increase in just one year of 6.3 percent, and a compound annual growth rate in the past five years of 5.6 percent. ISC Research reports that student enrollment increased globally during the last twelve months by 7 percent, taking the total number of children now learning at international schools to 5.1 million, a compound annual growth rate in the past five years of 6.7 percent. Approximately 20 percent of these students are the children of expatriate families who are seeking a school offering the language of learning and curriculum from their home country. However, the vast majority of international school students today are the children of local families choosing what they consider to be the best possible education close to home to prepare their child for university overseas and global careers. For example, approximately 72 percent of all students at Vietnam’s English-medium international schools are Vietnamese; 57 percent of the students at the international schools in China are Chinese; 67 percent of the students at India’s international schools are Indian; and 48 percent of the students at Germany’s international schools are German. According to the Global Report, the greatest demand for international schools is in Asia, where 643,000 children in the United Arab Emirates attend international schools, as do 348,000 children in China, 320,500 children in Saudi Arabia, and 97,000 in Malaysia. There has never been so much education choice for families in many cities of the world, with 306 international schools already established in Dubai, 169 in Shanghai, 160 in Abu Dhabi, and 142 in Beijing. Nevertheless, growth continues. ISC Research is aware of 104 new international schools opening this academic year alone (2018–2019). This includes 18 new international schools in China, 17 in the UAE, 12 in Malaysia, and five in both Vietnam and Thailand. Twenty of these new schools are affiliated with established independent school brands originating primarily from Britain, as well as the U.S. Richard Gaskell, Schools Director at ISC Research, says: “This continuing demand for international education reflects a trend that we are seeing in a vast number of countries. It is fueled by increased wealth and parents’ aspirations to prepare their children in the best possible way to study at universities overseas, and for careers that can take them around the world. There is a very high level of investment interest in international education in many countries and we expect this trend to continue as economies improve.” ISC Research projections for the global market suggest that in five years’ time (2023), there will be 7 million children studying at international schools.

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