Investment potential increases for international schools market

Investment potential within international education is increasing in many countries; and particularly so within the international schools market.


International schools, where teaching and learning for children between the ages of 3 and 18 follows an international curriculum in the language of English, are now in huge demand across the world. These include British schools overseas, International Baccalaureate schools, American schools, and a growing number of sister schools of independent school brands.

Where is demand coming from?

Traditionally the domain of expatriate children of western nationalities, the majority of students enrolled at international schools this year are local children attending an international school in their home city, and the children of expatriate professionals of Asian descent.

Most local families are selecting fee-paying international schools, in preference to their local school that delivers state education, to provide their child with a more reliable pathway to the world’s best possible higher education establishments. These have traditionally been universities in the United States and UK, but competition for international undergraduates is another recent global education phenomenon. Universities in Canada and Australia, plus degree courses delivered in English in such countries as The Netherlands and Germany, are attracting an increasing number of international students.

Latest market data

At ISC Research, we have been collecting primary data through field-based researchers since 1994. We supply data, trends and intelligence on the entire market through a range of country, development and benchmarking reports as well as an online portal, plus our annual Global Report which will published in August to provide a complete picture of the 2017-2018 academic year.  

Our latest analysis, from June this year (2018), indicates there are now 9,679 international schools around the world delivering learning in English to 5.289 million children from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12).

Variations in the market

It’s a vibrant market and one that is expanding as economies develop. CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for the number of international schools since 2010 is 6% and for bilingual schools (where English is one of the main languages for learning) is 8.3%. In some countries, such as China and the UAE, these figures are substantially higher. This picture shows just one of the new bilingual schools opening for local children in China this August. It is one of several schools forThe new Huili School Hangzhou in Xiaoshan, China Chinese children that Britain's Wellington College has established. Wellington's Huili School Hangzhou is located in Xiaoshan, China. The image at the top of the page is of the new Malvern College which also opens this coming academic year in Hong Kong.

Our forthcoming Global Report will provide detailed analysis of market developments in the 2017-2018 academic year, as well as regional and country trends and intelligence. For those considering the market; investors and developers, independent schools wishing to open a sister school overseas, and suppliers wishing to work with the international schools sector, understanding that the market varies significantly from country to country is crucial. Local influences impacting potential school development and successful growth include education legislation, socio-economic factors, the quality of the national education in the country, and more.  

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