Has growth in international schools been affected by recent events?

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Despite the pandemic’s impact, the international school market has continued to grow. Even before COVID-19, the education sector was undergoing significant change. Online learning gained traction and content became increasingly digital and personalized.

Recent data from ISC Research white paper shows the number of international schools is on the rise. In the last ten years, the number of international schools around the world has increased by 52%, from 8,700 schools in January 2013 to 13,190 schools in January 2023. In January 2024, the number has risen to 14,010.

The number of international schools has grown substantially in Southeast Asia: 1,905 in 2022 versus 1,528 in 2017. If you look at Western Asia (not including Egypt), there’s an impressive 1,995 international schools teaching 1.75 million students. Of those schools, the majority are based in the UAE. This is quite a remarkable increase in a relatively short period of time, indicating the growing demand for quality education in these regions.

Past Influences

The international school sector has faced challenges such as war, natural disasters, economic instability, and the global financial crisis of 2008. However, the market has grown steadily since then.

In our time overseas we experienced a revolution, red tide, bird flu, SARS, etc. Each new challenge saw international schools bounce back.

I have been an international teacher long enough to know that the opportunities are amazing but that this comes with the risk of operating in an international environment that is subject to economic, political, and environmental whims. Michelle Storer

What factors influence the continuing and growing demand for international schools?

  1. Globalization: With the growth of global businesses and the increasing interconnectedness of the world, there is a growing demand for schools that can provide a globally-oriented education. International schools offer an education that is not tied to any one particular national curriculum. They often emphasize multiculturalism and a global perspective.
  2. Expatriate communities: International schools have traditionally been popular among expatriate families who move frequently for work or other reasons. These families often want their children to receive a consistent education, regardless of where they are living. They also want to ensure that their children are prepared for higher education opportunities in multiple countries.
  3. growth in international schools |search associates| black words describing teaching on white paperGrowing middle class: As the middle class grows in many countries around the world, there is a greater demand for high-quality education options. Many families see international schools as offering a more rigorous and well-rounded education than their local public or private schools.
  4. Bilingual education: With more people realizing the benefits of being bilingual, there is a growing demand for schools that offer bilingual education. International schools often offer instruction in two or more languages. This can be especially appealing to families who want their children to be fluent in multiple languages.
  5. Innovative teaching approaches: International schools are often at the forefront of new teaching approaches, such as project-based learning, technology integration, and personalized learning. Families who are looking for schools that are innovative and forward-thinking may be drawn to international schools. With the continued advancement of technology, international schools will be able to leverage these advancements to enhance their curriculum and teaching methods.

As a result, international schools may be seen by more parents as a dependable education solution at a time when state education may be considered precarious.

What are some predictions for the future of international schools?

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The future of international schools looks promising, with continued growth expected. This is due to more families recognizing the value of global education. They seek out high-quality, innovative, and bilingual education options. However, this growth may vary between regions depending on government policies, the number of expats, and the value placed on international education leading to university attendance.

For more information on the key factors that are currently impacting the market growth of international schools click here to download the new white paper out now: “Why more international schools keep opening”, by ISC Research.


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