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In the City that Never Sleeps, a New Deal-Breaker

By Anne Keeling

02/01/2012

Hong Kong struggles to meet international school demand

Hong Kong is straining to meet the demand for placements in its international schools, even though the number of these schools has grown significantly in recent years.

The burgeoning demand is the result of a surge of American and British expatriates into the city-state since 2010, fuelled by job opportunities in the banking sector, and of increasing interest in international education on the part of local families.

There are now almost 30,000 American, and over 15,000 British, expatriates living in Hong Kong, and those with children generally want international school placements; many schools already have waiting lists for September 2012.

According to ISC Research, the organization that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide, in the year 2000 there were 70 schools in Hong Kong teaching 37,800 students. Today that number has increased to 164 international schools teaching 64,300 students.

On Hong Kong Island alone there are 74 schools, with another 37 in Kowloon, and 45 in the New Territories; 21 of these schools, including Island School and the Chinese International School, both on Hong Kong Island, have an intake of well over 1,000 students.
Approximately 10 percent of Hong Kong’s international schools follow a U.S. curriculum, 42 percent follow the English National Curriculum, and 14 percent follow an international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate.

All of these are popular choices, not only for expatriates but also for local families, who see this as a route to better opportunities for their children and a gateway to the world’s most respected universities.

Nicholas Brummitt, Managing Director of ISC Research Ltd says: “There is an acute shortage of school openings in Hong Kong. The existing schools are responding by rapidly expanding existing facilities wherever they can, but demand is expected to outstrip supply for a number of years. A great many new schools are opening over the next couple of years. These include more schools linked to prestigious parent schools in the UK, such as the brand new, state-of-the-art Harrow International School, located in Tuen Mun in the New Territories and which will open in September 2012.”

But for expatriates, the current situation looks tough. The word from Hong Kong schools is “Apply as soon as you can!” l

ISC Research is the only organization that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world’s English-medium international schools, data it has been tracking for over 20 years. Visit http://www.iscresearch.com.




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