The sector continues to flourish: there was a 6.7% rise in international schools recorded in the ISC systems and a net increase of 7.71% in students taught – just over 3 million students are now thought to be taught within this schooling system. Moreover, growth predictions for the sector are impressive.
According to Nicholas Brummit, Director of the ISC Consultancy Group, “Regardless of this growth, demand for international school places is still not matched by supply.”
He explained, “Our research has identified that many schools are increasing capacity as quickly as they can. In addition, there are many new developments; the dramatic growth of English-medium sections in locally-owned, private Chinese schools for example, and also plans recently announced by the Gulf States to invest US$200 billion for up to 6,600 new schools and 1,200 university campuses by 2020.”
ISC points to the UAE, in fact, as the top country leading the international schools market, followed by Pakistan, China, India and Japan.
Based upon the continuing market demand and calculating from historical development alone (at a conservative 6% growth rate), ISC predicts that by 2022, the number of international schools will expand to 11,331; the number of students will increase to 6.2 million; the number of staff to 529,000; and the annual fee income will reach almost $60 billion.
“Almost two thirds of the growth in the current market is as a result of this increase in demand from local nationals”
Brummit added, “Almost two thirds of the growth in the current market is as a result of this increase in demand from local nationals and this looks set to continue and expand.”
As a result, of course, major private education companies are positioning themselves to make gains in the sector. At Pearson Education Ltd, Lisa Evans, Senior Marketing Communications Manager, said, “The international schools market is a very important market for us and is growing in importance.”
Hugh MacPherson, Chief Executive of World Class Learning (WCL) Group, noted “phenomenal growth” across WCL schools and added that the industry continued to be fragmented in terms of major operators.
“The well-established international schools sector has been robust through the recession and is forecast to deliver substantial growth to operators well placed in this market,” he said. “It is a highly fragmented market, with even the largest groups accounting for less than 1%, offering huge potential for acquisition and consolidation.”
MacPherson identified the Middle East as a major opportunity, “where the demand for the quality international day schools, with a British originated curriculum, is in huge demand.”