NEWS ARTICLE

New school year begins with the international school sector looking stronger than ever

Sep 7, 2021

As of July 2021, ISC Research data recorded a total of 12,373 international schools around the world enrolling 5.6 million students and employ 550,846 teaching staff. The sector has demonstrated defensive resilience throughout COVID-19, generating over $53 billion USD in annual school fees, and looks set to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.  ​ 

New school year begins with the international school sector looking stronger than ever

Sep 7, 2021 | Data & Trends

The 2020-2021 academic year ended with the international schools market continuing to expand and shift.  

As of July 2021, ISC Research data recorded a total of 12,373 international schools around the world enrolling 5.6 million students and employ 550,846 teaching staff. The sector has demonstrated defensive resilience throughout COVID-19, generating over $53 billion USD in annual school fees, and looks set to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.  ​ 

International schools meet parents’ aspirations 

Only a few brand new international schools have opened since July 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, but very few have been forced to close and, during that same time, enrolment across the sector has increased by 41,200 students. An increasing number of parents want their children to be educated in English, to a standard of learning and qualifications recognised by most of the world’s universities and industry. Much of this demand is coming from aspirational families throughout Asia with the financial means to enrol their child into their local international school.  

Most popular international curricula 

The British A and International A Levels remain the most popular exit qualifications offered by 34% of international schools serving senior students, with the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme being offered by 26%. Bilingual learning is growing in popularity, with 34% of international schools now offering learning in the language of English and at least one other language, compared to 27% just five years ago.    

Increased access 

There has been notable growth in demand for international schools at a fee point affordable by more families. Several factors have influenced this including the expanded demand from local families selecting an international school in their neighbourhood in preference to a local state or independent school, the increase of expatriate families originating from a wide range of countries particularly within Asia, and declining employee benefits packages that include education fees for dependents. COVID-19 has also impacted the incomes of some families. A growing number of international schools are adapting their fees, or being established, to respond to these factors.  

The pandemic has been a living laboratory for the world and within K-12 education during this time, international schools have been cited for delivering best practice in teaching and learning, community wellbeing, inclusion, and education technology.  

The resilience shown by the international schools market affirms its position as a stable and viable investment option. As the recognised source of data and intelligence on the world’s international schools market for over 25 years, ISC Research supports educational investors as well as the schools and suppliers with expert services. To remain informed of latest market developments sign up to the ISC Research newsletter. 

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