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English-medium int’l schools market “maturing”

Some 5.8 million children are enrolled in 13,180 English-medium international schools around the globe, according to recent data from ISC Research.

ISC Research data shows the number of English-medium international schools in South-East Asia has increased 25% from 1,528 schools in 2017 to 1,905 today, with enrolment increasing 16% in that time from 503,100 students to 585,300 today. Photo: pexels

Student to teacher ratios vary across the world with premium fee schools averaging nine to one, and mid-market fee schools 10 to one

The international schools market data and intelligence specialist has suggested that English instruction, international curricula and qualifications preparing students for global higher education opportunities and smaller class sizes continue to attract parents to English-medium schools.

In a new white paper, ISC Research noted that the maturing English-medium international schools market is differentiating itself from other K-12 offerings.

“For those parents who live in a non-English-speaking country and want their child to have access to global higher education and career opportunities, immersion of learning using the English language remains the prime reason to select an English-medium international school,” the report stated.

“An increasing number of international schools are offering bilingual and multilingual learning with English as one of the main languages of instruction,” it continued.

While domestic school students may need to submit qualification transcripts translated by third parties when applying to international higher education, English-medium school curricula mean that families avoid an extra administrative and costly process.

“The teaching and learning approach, exit examinations and leaving certificates offered by international schools are commonly accepted by the majority of the world’s higher education institutions including the highest ranked universities, as well as most multinational companies,” the paper said.

However, while the report highlighted that the market “may well be maturing in some areas of the world”, it continues to shift and adapt in response to educational opportunities, political influences, and market competition.

ISC Research also pointed to the college counsellor services that English-medium international schools offer as an attractive differentiator.

Smaller class sizes are an additional benefit, with the average student to teacher ratio across the entire international school sector is 10 to one.

It identified that student to teacher ratio varies across the world with premium fee schools averaging nine to one, and mid-market fee schools 10 to one.

“Lower student-to-teacher ratios mean more individualised learning attention”

In the UAE, the average is 13 to one, China is 11 to one and in India median is seven students per teacher.

“Lower student-to-teacher ratios mean more individualised learning attention, more potential for student voice, and fewer behaviour and class management demands,” it said.

Fees at privately operated schools vary significantly, the report noted. For example, while families in Algeria can expect to pay up to $30,000 to attend international schools, in Somalia tuition can cost $120. The global average in July 2022 was $10,104, the document said.

The report also highlighted an “emerging trend for international schools to employ a more diverse teaching staff, selecting educators for their cultural understandings and different experiences, and upskilling necessary curriculum knowledge and pedagogical principles internally”.

But, it acknowledged that “many parents, particularly Asian parents, want white Western teachers for their child and, as a result, select an international school for this reason”.

“However, some parents are now expressing a desire for their child to also retain their home culture, language, heritage and religion, and a number of governments require this,” it added.

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