Growing demand for international schools in Europe and Asia

The international schools market is seeing some interesting shifts which could lead to more choice for all in the long run.

Children with hands on a globe
The international schools market has gone from a largely expat sector to serving an increasing number of locals, creating a further need for school places in several countries. ISC Research shared some insights at the 37th COBIS Annual Conference in London.Back in January, research indicated that nearly 80 per cent of students attending international schools were children of aspirational local parents seeking globally respected qualifications in their home country.

China supply and demand on the rise

Richard Gaskell, schools director at ISC Research, reported that while China outnumbered the rest of the world for international schools (5,344) it was seeing a high demand for schools.Across China, British independent school brands such as King's College School and Lucton School are set to open in September 2018 and Uppingham School is scheduled to launch in 2019. With Westminster School and Wycombe Abbey International School planned to open in 2020, all of which will be accepting both expat and Chinese children. Chinese schools are separated into four types. Schools for Children of Foreign Workers – known as expat schools, which are closed to Chinese students and do not have to offer the local curriculum. Private schools – owned by Chinese investors and designed for Chinese citizens. Sino-Foreign Co-operatives – institutions that include a Chinese and foreign education partner and are open to both Chinese and expat students. And, International Streams – privately owned entities that run within Chinese schools and are open to both foreign and local pupils.In an earlier forecast, studies revealed the number of students at English international schools in China would increase from 475,000 in September 2017 to 881,000 within five years. Among UK independent schools, there was also high demand from China. “In 2017, there were 7,990 students from China in UK independent schools. In 2018, there are 9,008 – an increase of 13 per cent year on year,” Mr Gaskell said.In February, Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to China saw education deals worth more than £550 million including several new school developments involving British school brands.Mr Gaskell highlighted a steady need for private Chinese bilingual schools such as Wellington College International Hangzhou and Nord Anglia Chinese International School Shanghai. Also mentioning a landmark cooperation agreement between the University of Buckingham and Hualan Education Group to set up teacher training centres in Britain and China.
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Growth in the rest of Asia

Japan was noted to have its largest student enrolment numbers since 2011 due to a growth in expats and locals attending international schools, with the country planning to build more. While South Korea was said to be experiencing tighter school regulations.Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam all saw a steady growth and demand for branded international schools. Drivers included Singapore’s ambition to be a $200 billion internet economy and fin tech leader by 2025, while Malaysia is predicted to be a high income country by 2020. Across Asia, there was a unique demand for more affordable schools.

European international schools

Research revealed increased interest in English-medium K-12 schools around Europe. Particularly in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris, with schools such as the American School of Paris reporting an increase of 54 per cent in new students for the 2017/18 school year. Frankfurt was predicted to see the most growth activity in international schools within Europe, with an influx of corporates set to be posted in the financial hub along with their children. King’s College Frankfurt – the first British curriculum school in the city with fees around 10,000 euros is set to open its doors in August this year. The school will cater to approximately 600 pupils, from the ages of three to 18. Having spoken to schools in Europe, Mr Gaskell stated that not finding a school is often the number one barrier for relocating employees. He also reported that companies such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank were said to be reserving places at Frankfurt’s international schools ahead of an anticipated surge.   A few months back, the ISC reported that some Frankfurt schools had seen a rise in enrolment demand of up to 40 per cent. “School groups are looking to buy land in Frankfurt and we expect to see a lot more,” he added.Similar moves to Amsterdam, such as the scheduled relocation of The European Medicines Agency in 2019 are also anticipated to drive growth for international schools in Europe.For information on schools and admissions see our latest UK and International Education Guides.For related news and features, visit our Education and Schools section. Find out more about our upcoming Relocate AwardsRelocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory