Global international schools market offers opportunities for UK education providers

The international schools market expanded significantly during the 2013-2014 academic year and is now providing English-speaking education around the world for more children than ever before.

Data on the market is available from the UK-based International School Consultancy Group (ISC), the leadingprovider of data and market intelligence for the international schools market in the world.

In just one year, the number of students aged between 3 and 18 attending English medium international schools increased from 3.4 million to 3.75 million. According to the ISC Global Report – a report providing detailed market data, analysis and forecasts on the worldwide international schools market – 80% of students enrolled are local children whose parents are hoping that an English-speaking education will get them a place at an English-speaking university.

Demand and growth

“The global international schools market has flourished since the turn of the century,” says the ISC Global Report. “Enrolment has grown by 8.5% per annum and total annual tuition fee income by 12.6% per annum since 2009. Many factors have driven this growth, and those factors are still in place, ensuring that growth will continue.”

Demand for international school places, particularly those in non-English-speaking countries, is driven by two expanding groups; local parents and expatriates. Between them they invested USD 36 billion in school fees during the 2013-2014 year and the ISC Global Report suggests that demand and investment in English-speaking international school education will continue to rise.

This growth is most heavily focused right now in Asia where there’s a fight for places at the best international schools in several countries including Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. Demand is extensive in Singapore and Qatar, and it has the potential to explode in China if government restrictions on attendance by local children are relaxed in any way.

“The 2013-2014 academic year was a very successful one for international schools,” says Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of the International School Consultancy Group. “Investment and development in the market was extensive. As a result, a significant number of new international schools opened their doors for the first time this academic year, many others completed extensive expansion work, and several national schools converted to international schools to meet the demands of local families.”

Within five years, ISC forecasts there will be over 5 million students around the world studying in international schools.

Opportunities for UK education providers

The ISC Global Report indicates that the UK curriculum has continued to dominate the international schools market. This offers tremendous potential for quality British education providers. Almost half of the entire international schools market is UK-oriented, following all or in part, a UK curriculum and employing a high percentage of UK-qualified teachers and leaders.

As a result, British education suppliers and specialist service providers are increasingly in demand as British teachers and leaders in international schools turn to the products and services they know and trust, or select resources and professional support that help them meet the needs of their curriculum and learning orientation.

Funding opportunities from UKTI and LEPs

The ISC Global Report and all ISC market intelligence reports (available for key countries) are eligible for grant support under the UKTI Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS). This grant is accessible for UK organisations that are working with a UKTI International Trade Advisor to expand their international business.

Funding for ISC research reports may also be available to assist UK education export growth and development from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

For more details about all ISC research reports and services visit Advice from ISC for education providers and investors wishing to develop business with international schools appeared in a recent issue of Education Investor magazine. You can read the article here.


Sectors: Education & Training and Software
Topics: Market Research
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