International schools are now a vital source of international undergraduates

The international schools market this year educated over 5 million students, the vast majority of whom are attending an international school as a reliable pathway to studying an English-speaking degree at a reputable university. These schools, where students are learning in English and taking globally reputable exams, are now considered a vital source for international students selecting undergraduate degrees.

No longer is this market considered a niche by international officers. With over 9,000 schools, dedicated college counsellors guiding student degree and university selection, and with the projection that the international schools market will double the number of its students within ten years, it is a market that many universities are now targeting as a primary source for international students.

Appearing on an ISC Research webinar for international officers, Rahim Rahimov, Student Admissions Manager at the brand new Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) highlighted the benefits of undergraduates who have studied at international schools. “They are very important to us and any university,” he said. “International schools produce students with good English language skills, good personal skills, better curriculum portfolios, and their College Counsellors are among our major stakeholders. It’s imperative that we maintain long-term relationships with them [the Counsellors] because they convey everything about your university to their students.”

Rahim, who had five years’ experience as an international officer at the American University Sharjah before moving to DIDI, which will open this September, disagreed with the claim that international school students only aspire to the world’s top ten universities. “This is not true at all,” he said. “It is not just ranking of the university that international school students consider, but country, lifestyle, security, type of degree, learning approach, and cost; there are many factors affecting a decision to join a university,” he explained. “International school students, from my experience, will have a couple of options in their mind; maybe one top ten university, plus others. The top ten universities are very competitive for students to gain a place; a fraction will get in, the rest are looking for great quality, good value courses which we can offer. The international school students are great quality undergraduates for us.”

You can view the entire webinar, which shares data from the 2017-2018 academic year about the international schools market and its students, here.


  • College Counsellors
  • DIDI
  • Dubai