国际学校越来越本地化 International schools: local enrolments fuelling huge market expansion
The outlook for the already boominginternational schools sector remains bullish as ISC Research forecasts that by 2026,the K-12 international school market will almost double, reaching 16,000schools teaching 8.75 million students generating $89bn globally.
According to the latest ISC Research GlobalReport, the number of international schools worldwide has increased 41.5% inthe last five years to 8,257 schools– mostly at the middle to lower end of thetuition price scale as children from local middle income families increasinglyfill seats.
The number of students attendinginternational schools has also risen in the last five years to 4.3 million. Asia, which includes Western Asia and theMiddle East, accounts for the majority of this rapid growth. In five years thenumber of schools in the region has increased 55.7% headed by world leaders theUAE and China, with 548 and 547 schools respectively.
In terms of students, the UAE alsodominates with 564,200 enrolees, followed by Saudi Arabia with 265,400.
More than half (54%) of the world’s internationalEnglish-medium K-12 schools now operate in Asia enrolling 60% (2.55 million) ofall international school students. The development of local student demand isnow driving growth in the sector, marking a shift away from reliance onexpatriate families living and working in the country.
The research notes that Malaysia, wheresome schools are currently experiencing a significant loss ofexpatriate children because of the oil and gas crisis, has seenstrong demand from local families for international school places helpingto keep enrolments high. Local middle-class enrolments have alsoserved to move the needle on tuition fees. Average annual tuition fees atinternational schools globally has dropped for the fourth year in a row to$9,330. According to the ISC Research’s report,this is 0.2% lower than in 2011. While demand remains high at the premiumschool level, an increasing number of middle income families can only afford topay fees at the middle and lower end of the fee range, Richard Gaskell,director for international schools, at the International SchoolConsultancy explained.
“The number of international schoolsoffering fees at this middle and lower end has increased in recent years andthis trend is continuing because of the growing demand from middle incomefamilies,” he told The PIE News.
“This has opened up more opportunities forinvestors and not-for-profit organisations to establish affordable schools.” Despite the drop in average tuition fees,the total annual income for the K-12 international schools market has increasedby 45.9% over the last five years to $39bn as a result of the huge marketexpansion.
National legislation in key marketsincluding Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea is supporting the swell in demandby relaxing or removing altogether policies restricting local children fromattending foreign-owned international schools.
In China, laws still don’t allow childrento attend foreign-owned schools, however a number of new Chinese-ownedbilingual schools offering classes in Mandarin and English are flourishing.
According to the research, currentinternational school growth in China is being fuelled entirely by the localmarket.
But as demand from students rises globally, demand for teachers grows even more rapidly. The sector is already strugglingto find quality teaching staff but ISC Research predicts that the number ofteachers required within 10 years will be 780,000; double the current number offull-time staff employed in the sector.
“The growth in the number of schools hascreated pockets of need that cannot be easily filled,” Diane Jacoutot, managingdirector at Edvectus, a global teacherrecruitment agency, told The PIE News.
National policies are also creating frictionin the teacher recruitment pipeline, said Jacoutot. For example, leadingmarkets Abu Dhabi and China, as well as countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia,Indonesia, Hong Kong and Malaysia, require two years of teaching experiencebefore a visa can be obtained.
“We are noticing many schools in thesemarkets that have a modest fee structure, and correspondingly lower teachersalaries, who used to hire lots of newly qualified teachers have either had toraise salaries to compete for the two-year experienced teachers, or they havedecide not to hire many western teachers, much to the parents’ dismay,”Jacoutot said.
In a bid to control teacher quality, manycountries are also limiting the types of teacher qualifications they willaccept.
“We are having huge difficulty, forinstance, placing UK and Irish primary teachers without a Bachelor of Educationin many parts of the Middle East, even though the traditional university-basedBachelor of Education is something from which the current UK government is movingaway,” she said.
For a comprehensive view of theinternational school market, read our analysis.