25 Years of ISC Research and the International Schools Market

In 2019, ISC Research celebrates 25 years producing research on the international schools market.

The company was founded by its current owner and chairman, Nick Brummitt in 1994 who had been tracking the market informally since 1978. His aim for the company was to collect data and intelligence, and identify trends on English-medium schools around the world that were offering an international curriculum; a market that was emerging at that time.

There had been some international schools in existence for many years before that. Nick had worked with some of these schools supplying educational resources.

Why International Schools?

Those first international schools existed to meet the needs of an expatriate market, and the schools were few and far between. An international school, for example, was established in 1922 in Miri, a remote part of Borneo, by the Shell oil company which opened the school in order to attract oil field workers to the jobs there. Without the school, it would have been challenging for the company to recruit the type of workers it needed; young, skilled workers who, if their families were provided with the services and support necessary to maintain a quality family life, were content and stable employees. This school, now part of the Tenby Group of international schools, remains in existence today as Tenby Miri International School.

Other early international schools were established to support the staff of embassies, or to meet the needs of a small expatriate group in countries where the local education was considered unsuitable, either because of the language of learning or the quality of the teaching, or both. The United Nations Schools, for example, were originally formed by parents of children working in the United Nations offices in such locations as Vienna and Hanoi.

For these early international schools, an expatriate intake dominated, a national curriculum (based on the priorities of the founders) was used, the school was invariably small and limited in resources, and most of these schools were not for profit.

As new international schools were established and developed over time, so the characteristics changed.

Market Value

The international schools market is a profitable one. Based on annual fee income alone, the market is generating US $49.9 billion (March 2019).

The number of international schools globally has experienced a compound annual growth rate in the past five years of 5.6% to over 10,400 schools in March 2019. Student enrolment has increased at an even higher rate; a compound annual growth rate in the past five years of 6.7% to more than 5.8 million children.

The Next 25 Years

ISC Research continues to focus its business growth entirely on the world’s English-medium international K-12 schools and is recognised by government bodies, associations and the global media as the reputable, independent organisation for data and intelligence on this market.

As the market continues to evolve, so ISC Research aims to remain the most reliable, comprehensive and current source on the world’s international schools.

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