The International schools market is one that has grown substantially over the past twenty years. It’s also one that is showing no signs of slowing down just yet. From around 2,500 schools and under one million students in 2000, the market has soared to almost 11,000 schools and over five and a half million students over the past two decades.
But it’s not just school and student numbers that have grown. According to industry experts, ISC Research, staff numbers have also grown almost 500% and fee income has grown by a huge 900%, topping $49 billion in recent years.
In the first of our Insight series of blogs, we discuss where this growth has come from as well as key factors behind the growth.
International schools head east
For years, the U.A.E has led the way for International schools, regularly topping the charts for school numbers. In fact, when you look at the Middle East region in general, it accounts for 16% of all International schools across the world. However, whilst there are almost 700 schools in the U.A.E (split largely across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain), changes in recent years to government regulations, growing economies and consumer habits across Asia has started to close the gap.
In China alone, over 250 new educational establishments have opened in the past 5 years, bringing the number to over 900. The specific reasons behind school growth in China? Simply new regulations and guidelines that have provided greater clarity for schools and school groups looking to open. Additionally, a burgeoning Chinese middle class looking for a better quality of education has also helped swell the market as we’ll discuss further below.
Factors driving growth
So, the market is growing. But what are the key factors driving this growth. Insight from ISC Research shows there are six main drivers:
- Demand from local families
- Demand from Asian expatriate professionals
- Demand for mid-priced schools
- Demand for school brands
- Demand for bilingual learning
- A continued demand for English-medium learning, recognised qualifications and reliable pathways to higher education.
The most interesting of these is the demand from local families and the demand from Asian expatriate professionals. Gone are the days when International schools would draw their student base from the families of overseas professionals and Western expatriate workers. Nowadays the balance is tipped in the favour of local students from middle class families. The reason? A clear aim within the families to give their children with an education that provides them access to a western university.
No signs of slowing
As with all markets that have gone through a period of huge growth, there comes a time when growth slows, and the market stabilises. This doesn’t appear to be happening to the International schools market just yet. Looking ahead to the coming years, ISC Research is already tracking over 300 new school openings suggesting there is plenty of life left.
So, with more schools set to open and more students set to be educated through the system, the future seems bright for International schools.
If you’re looking to open a new school or expanding your current one, get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you.