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10 facts international officers need to know about international schools

The international schools market is now considered a vital one for university international officers. Here are 10 key facts about these schools that all international officers should know:


1.       The leading countries for international school enrolment in the 2018-2019 academic year are UAE enrolling 647,000 students, China enrolling 355,000 students, Saudi Arabia enrolling 331,000 students, and India enrolling 297,000 students.

2.       Tuition fees at international schools vary depending on the location. For example, the average annual tuition fee at an international school in South East Asia this year is $7,800, in Eastern Asia it’s $14,000, and in the Middle East it’s $7,100.

3.       International schools offer global qualifications. The top three qualifications are A and International A Levels, International Baccalaureate Diploma, and Advanced Placement. Knowing the grading and content comparisons of these will help international officers and university admissions to fully understand and support international students during their selection and application process.

4.       International schools conduct all, or a major part of their learning, in English. This means that international school students have very competent English language skills by the time they apply to university.

5.       The international schools market is dense in many major cities of the world and getting denser. There are currently 309 international schools in Dubai alone, 125 in Tokyo, and 163 in Abu Dhabi making visits by international officers affordable and time efficient.

6.       Most international schools enrol local and expatriate students. An international school’s expatriate students typically originate from many different countries. Today there is extensive growth in the number of expatriates from Southern Asia attending many international schools, particularly the international schools in South East Asia.

7.       Many international schools employ a dedicated college counsellor or college counselling team to support students with their pathway decisions and applications. Very few international schools have any engagement with external agents, preferring their own college counselling staff.

8.       International school college counsellors advocate best-fit universities and courses to their students. Being well connected with international officers is crucial for universities to have success when recruiting international school students as undergraduates.

9.       International schools vary in orientation. For example, 53% of international schools are currently British in orientation where UK universities are a preferred destination. However international school students are increasingly aware of alternative undergraduate options in emerging markets as competition for international students increases.

10.   Latest research from ISC Research identifies location of the university, quality of education provision, and cost of degree as the top 3 reasons why international school students choose their undergraduate degree today.


To learn more about the international schools market, or for ISC’s free report about international school student university choice, contact sarah.nandlal@iscresearch.com



  • Higher education
  • International Officers