Growing demand for international schools in Europe and Asia

A rapidly shifting international schools market could lead to more choice for relocating families in the long run.

Kung Fu at Concordia International School Shanghai

Concordia International School Shanghai

International Guide 18/19 video
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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. The 37th COBIS Annual Conference in London revealed some interesting insights.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. At the event, Richard Gaskell, schools director at ISC Research, reported that while China outnumbered the rest of the world for international schools (5,344), it was still seeing a high demand for schools.

International schools launch in China

Across China, it was noted that British independent school brands such as King's College School and Lucton School are set to open in September 2018. With Uppingham School scheduled to launch in 2019 and 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.He highlighted a growing need for additional private Chinese bilingual schools such as Wellington College International Hangzhou and Nord Anglia Chinese International School Shanghai. While 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. 

Schools 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 schools. Meanwhile, 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 fintech 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.  
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Finding a new school is often the number one barrier for relocating employees, with this in mind several companies such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank are already said to be reserving places at Frankfurt’s international schools ahead of an anticipated surge.   

Frankfurt takes the spotlight

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.Kirsty Sharp, headteacher of King’s College Frankfurt said, “There are many international schools in Germany and now several in and around Frankfurt. King’s College is the first British school and we are delighted to be bringing British education to the city. Frankfurt is an international hub and we are happy to be opening there. The interest and demand for places at King’s College – The British School of Frankfurt is growing daily.”Just a few months ago, Frankfurt schools had reported 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,” Mr Gaskell stated.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 many families, sending their child to an international school gives them access to a world-class education and allows them to select the type of education they aspire to for their children. “At King’s, children can transfer between the schools with priority placing and seamless transitions,” said Ms Sharp.“There are many advantages to gaining an international education, from developing a real life global perspective to a broad understanding of culture and diversity. At King’s, we take great pride in celebrating the culture and traditions of our pupils to develop everyone’s understanding of the world,” she added.
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