More parents than ever before are looking to send their kids to international schools. Hence enrollment numbers and fee income will rise hand-in-hand over the next few years.
Nicholas Brummitt, Managing Director of ISC Worldwide, says this is the result of increased demand not only from expat families, but also wealthy locals looking to ensure their kids get the best possible education.
He talks to Expat Marketing about how schools and countries are preparing for this growth, as well as what it’s worth.
Nicholas, what kind of growth should we expect in international schools over the next few years?
ISC Research predicts that the number of international schools will grow from 6,000 today to 8,000 by 2015. The number of students will grow from 2.6 million today to 3.7 million in 2015. And fee income will grow from USD 26 billion today to USD 37 billion by 2015.
What are the underlying drivers?
This growth is a result of increased mobility for expat families and a dramatic rise in the number of local children entering international schools. Locals now fill 80% of spaces in international schools, the complete opposite of 30 years ago. The growth in the market over the last 10 years has been significant and remained healthy because of these changing demographics.
Many countries are also trying to send fewer students abroad in order to retain their talents and fight “brain drain.”
Can you give examples of specific initiatives countries are promoting?
Both Malaysia and South Korea are working to become regional hubs for education. Malaysia has lowered taxes and provided land and buildings in development zones. South Korea has actually made plans for an English-only “education city,” Jeju Island, and offered incentives for schools to open there.
Both these projects have already attracted international schools.
Where can we expect the greatest growth in the number of international schools?
GCC countries and Hong Kong. These countries are currently experiencing shortages and will need to fill them.
As competition increases, how will these schools market or differentiate themselves?
Schools differentiate themselves primarily through location, buildings, fees, national orientation–like emphasizing their “Britishness”–also through curriculum and examinations.
Each school’s marketing plan will vary depending on how much competition there is and whether it has a waiting list. Because of the shortage of schools many have a full complement of students coming to them.
Are there any “multinational” schools expanding their reach beyond single countries?
There are both schools with campuses in multiple countries, including UK private schools like Harrow and Dulwich, as well as multinational groups of countries. Examples of the latter are GEMs, Cognita, Nord Anglia, Taaleem and ESOL.
The one thing nearly all these groups have in common is that they are expanding aggressively either by buying existing schools, expanding existing operations or starting new schools.
As new schools open what impact do you think it will have on fee income?
It depends on the demand in individual countries. In places where schools are oversubscribed fees will remain high–right now we are seeing fees rise across the board.
But where existing schools cannot meet demand new schools will appear. Some may seek a competitive advantage by offering a less expensive education.
Nicholas Brummitt is Managing Director of ISC Worldwide (part of The International School Consultancy Group), Managing Director of ISC Research Ltd and Head of The International School Consultancy. ISC Research is the only independent organisation dedicated to mapping the world’s international schools and analysing developments in the market. It has been gathering information about English-medium international schools for over 20 years. http://www.iscresearch.com