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News from East Asia

Sam Fraser has also spent time in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong this term gathering intelligence from schools in East Asia. Here’s his news from that region:

The general consensus right now is that the expatriate population in China is either plateauing or declining, depending on location. This is a problem for the schools for the children of foreign workers (SCFW) which are highly regulated by the government and not allowed to enrol Chinese nationals living in China. However, SCFW schools are able to admit the children of returning Chinese nationals, who can obtain a waiver to allow their dependents to attend these schools, and demand is on the increase for this demographic which is helping to redress the balance of the declining expatriate market. Nevertheless, for most SCFW schools, except for those in the popular expatriate city of Shenzhen, demand is no longer matching supply.

Seeing the most growth right now in the international schools market is China’s international Chinese-owned Private Schools (iCPS). These schools are allowed to enrol local Chinese nationals. Although a relatively new phenomenon (most have opened since 2016), average capacity utilisation at these schools is already above 75% and expected to continue growing as demand spreads.

The popularity of these schools is not only due to their demand by local families, but also due to them being one of the few routes by which foreign investors can get involved in educating Chinese children. Some of the most successful developments within the iCPS sector have included partnerships between Chinese investors and foreign schools, in particular, British independent schools. This September, several such schools opened their doors for the first time to students. These included Adcote School and Lucton School in Shanghai, Nanwai King’s College in Wuxi, RDFZ King’s College in Hangzhou, Rong Qiao Sedbergh School in Fuzhou, Welllington’s Huili Schools in Shanghai and Hangzhou, and Wycombe Abbey International in Hangzhou.  All of these schools are partnered with well-established, reputable public schools from Britain and responding to the huge demand, by aspirational Chinese families, for education that delivers academic heritage, reputation, brand prestige and a reliable route to higher education.

For the first time in many years, following its recovery from a series of major disasters, Japan is a country gaining visibility within the international schools market. Its schools are beginning to see notable growth in demand, and there’s a likelihood of more international schools being developed. Japan will be hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics in 2020, both of which will bring a greater level of exposure to Japan and will help with the government’s aim to increase Japan’s tourism from 28.7 million in 2017, up to 60 million by 2030. The country’s population decline is being counteracted by a relaxation of immigration laws. New immigration legislation looks to increase the number of foreign workers, with a new policy which looks to increase visa levels in five key industries: construction, agriculture, hospitality, nursing care and ship building. The aim of the new policy is to bring in 500,000 new workers by 2025.  In the meantime, Japan’s universities are offering more English-medium degree programmes at affordable prices which is encouraging a growing number of local families to consider international schools as the best preparation for higher education both at home or overseas.

As for Hong Kong, enrolment continues to grow, particularly in Kowloon. A large portion of families living in Hong Kong, both locals and expatriates, are seeking international education for their children, but the expansion of international schools in recent years has made for a more competitive market.

All in all, East Asia is a very healthy region within the international schools market right now.

  • East Asia
  • International schools