The international schools market has experienced yet another strong growth year. The very latest figures published by ISC Research, part of the International School Consultancy Group, show that as the 2012-13 academic year commenced, the number of English-medium international schools globally stood at 6,327; an increase of 153% in just 12 years.
Employment within the international schools market has increased this year too, not only to support new schools, but also to respond to the expansion of many already in existence. This has resulted in a global growth in international school staff to 295,000 supporting the learning needs of 3.14 million students.
Asia dominates the market with 54% of the total number of international schools and 58% of the total number of students. More than twice as many international students (895,000) are in Western Asia (the Middle East) than in any other Asian sub-region. The top five countries leading the international schools market – all of which are in Asia – are the UAE, Pakistan, China, India and Japan; each with over 200 schools. The UAE alone has 376 schools. 32 countries worldwide have over 50 international schools; 16 of these are located in Asia.
Growth for the year
462 new school records were added to ISC systems during the 2011-12 academic year. New schools are added for a variety of reasons; most obviously when a new school opens, but also when an existing school introduces an international curriculum or adds an English-medium stream, or adds a new geographically separate campus. All schools added represent market growth.. The result of this is that the net increase in the overall number of schools in the 2011-12 academic year was 6.7% and the net increase in students was 7.71%.
47% of the global total of international schools currently offer (all or in part) a UK curriculum, 45% offer (all or in part) an international curriculum (which may be the IPC, IMYC PYP, MYP, IB, CIPP or others), and 25% (all or in part) an American curriculum (these percentages reflecting the fact that more than one type of curriculum is offered in many schools).
Based on fee income alone, the international schools market is currently worth US$33 billion (GBP£20.4billion).
The Future of the International Schools Market
"Regardless of this growth, demand for international school places is still not matched by supply," says Nicholas Brummitt, Managing Director of the International School Consultancy Group. "Our research has identified that many schools are increasing capacity as quickly as they can. In addition, there are many new developments; the dramatic growth of English-medium sections in locally-owned, private Chinese schools for example, and also plans recently announced by the Gulf States to invest US$200 billion for up to 6,600 new schools and 1,200 university campuses by 2020."
Growth of the market over the next ten years looks significant. Based upon the continuing market demand and calculating from historical development alone (at a conservative 6% growth rate) without taking into account new developments, ISC predicts that within ten years (by 2022), the number of international schools will expand to 11,331; the number of students will increase to 6.2 million; the number of staff to 529,000; and the annual fee income will reach almost $60 billion.
"The next ten years will, without doubt, see dramatic growth in the international schools market," says Nicholas Brummitt. "Demand continues to come from the expanding expatriate market and, more significantly, the increasing number of wealthy local families who are recognising the benefits of an English-medium education for their children. Almost two thirds of the growth in the current market is as a result of this increase in demand from local nationals and this looks set to continue and expand." He adds; "The development in the market as a whole is resulting in a booming supply chain."
Many companies that traditionally looked to national schools for their business are turning more of their attention internationally. One example of this is Pearson Education Ltd. "The international schools market is a very important market for us and is growing in importance," says Lisa Evans, Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Pearson. "Over the past four years there have seen significant changes witnessed in the market including an increased number of international schools run for-profit, a growing number of corporations involved, an increased number of local children attending many international schools, and an increased demand for digital delivery."
"The continued market growth will increase competition for the best learning opportunities and resources, the best teachers and the best students," concludes Nicholas Brummitt.