International Schools Market

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Newspaper reports have tended to sensationalise the impact of the present worldwide situation, so here are the real facts about the international schools market from ISC Research, the organisation that maps the world’s international schools and analyses developments in the market:

The majority of international schools predict that enrolment for the 2009-2010 academic year will remain the same or will increase. Very few schools predict a decrease in enrolment. No single school has announced it will close. The schools predicting the biggest decrease are those heavily dependent on expatriate parents who are working for corporations that are significantly downsizing. This is most notable for schools in countries that do not yet allow local children to attend the international schools; making intake entirely dependent on expatriate families. However, relatively few countries now restrict intake in such a way and this has resulted in the demographics of student intake changing in recent times. It is now estimated that worldwide, 70-80% of students in international schools are from local families.

This is why the global recession is not having such an impact on the international school market as many outside the industry assume. The highly accelerated growth in the market over the past three years (a 62% increase in the overall number of schools worldwide with most significant growth in China, India, Pakistan, the UAE and Thailand) will abate to some extent, but overall there is confidence throughout the market that most international schools will weather the financial storm and a significant number will continue to prosper.

Overall, the state of the international schools market remains very strong. There are now 5,269 English-medium international schools educating 2,260,000 students and employing 204,000 staff.  Purely in terms of fee income ISC Research currently values the market conservatively at £11.5 billion and predicts it will more than double to £24 billion by 2020. Future growth is expected in most countries but will be especially strong in Asia followed by Europe and South America.