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Developments in Thailand and Malaysia in the IS Market

By Anne Keeling
Developments in Thailand and Malaysia in the IS Market

Southeast Asia has become a major region for international education. The field of international schools there continues to expand, and the desire among parents to provide their children with an English-medium education that follows international curricula and examinations is rising. According to the latest Market Intelligence Reports for Thailand and Malaysia by ISC Research, options for both local and expatriate families are increasing as demand grows. Bangkok, a global leader In Thailand, there are now 205 English-medium international schools teaching over 72,800 students between the ages of three and 18. Today, Bangkok is one of the top five countries in the world for international education; field research conducted by ISC Research suggests that some families in the city are viewing up to 20 schools before making a final choice. The quality of international schools in Bangkok is extremely high, particularly in the premium international school sector. According to ISC Research, which produces this data, these schools usually charge the highest fees but are generally the most respected, as they are often accredited and recognized by leading international school associations. With 49 premium international schools out of a total 118 in the city, Bangkok is positioned as one of the top five sites in the world for quality international schooling, alongside Dubai, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo. Growth in Thailand Throughout Thailand, the international schools market has grown steadily over the last five years with more local Thai children attending international schools than any other nationality. Today, 46 percent of all students attending Thailand’s international schools are Thai nationals. There is growth from Asian expatriate families too, particularly those from China, India, South Korea, and Japan. A student demographic decline is noted among Western expatriate families, many of whom have been relocated or repatriated. More international schools are being built in Thailand. The country is experiencing an expansion among mid-price sector English-medium international schools, which charge annual fees of between US$5,000–$9,000 for the primary years, and US$7,200–$14,699 for secondary. Thailand has also seen an uptick in premium schools, including some associated with independent school brands. The prestigious British independent school King’s College Wimbledon recently announced it will be opening a new school in Bangkok in 2020. Demand increases in Malaysia In Malaysia, international school enrollment has increased by 61.2 percent over the last five years to include 100,060 children. There are now 280 English-medium international schools throughout the country, with 43 international schools in Kuala Lumpur and many more in the surrounding districts of the city. ISC Research is aware of 16 new international schools due to open across Malaysia in the next few years. As in Thailand, most of this school development will be focused within the mid-price sector of schools, which are particularly popular with local Malaysian families. In addition, the number of premium-priced schools continues to grow, with several independent school brands from Britain planning international campuses there. In both Thailand and Malaysia, as well as in Singapore, a new market shift is taking place. A growing number of Chinese families are purchasing second properties in leading Southeast Asian cities—including Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Singapore—to gain access to affordable, accessible international school education for their children. Not only are the international school fees in these cities lower than those in their home country, but the international schools in Southeast Asia are not as heavily regulated as they are in China. This means that Chinese children are able to access full international education from Kindergarten to Grade 12. While the cost and restrictions on international education in China remain high, it is likely that this education mobility trend will continue, if not expand. ISC Research has been collecting market intelligence and data on international schools throughout the world for twenty-five years. It produces the most comprehensive, up-to-date and objective research on the market today, including primary source data and intelligence. ISC Research products and services guide schools with their growth plans, advise investors for new school development, inform educators and suppliers supporting the market, and support universities when engaging with international schools.

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