"The international schools sector will continue to grow at a significant rate in the coming decade – now is a great time to invest"
Rick Johnson, CEO EduReach Education
|Fee income (USD)
|No. of Schools
International Schools Consultancy, 2018
Drivers of Growth
The international schools market has grown at a steady rate over the past twenty years. This growth has been focused within the world’s Rapidly Emerging Economies and has been driven by a common set of features.
- Demographic transition: the world’s population has more than trebled since 1950, leaving many countries with a disproportionately high share of children. In many instances, state school education has not kept pace with the growing demand for school places, leaving a gap best filled by the private sector.
- Economic growth: as economies grow, the average income of families increases, leading to more middle and upper-income earners. International schools therefore become more affordable to local families, who increasingly favour private education options over local state alternatives. Where international schools were once made up of predominantly expatriate children, they are increasingly filled with children of local families – this trend indicates a sustainable future for the sector.
- Mobility for tertiary education: for many families, qualifications from top universities in the UK and USA are the gateway to successful careers for their children. And with supportive visa regulations and cost-effective international travel, overseas universities are more accessible than ever. International school education is viewed as the main pathway to a western university with many parents selecting schools at primary and secondary level on this basis.
- English language: English is the international language of business. International schools are seen by parents as an excellent way to enhance their children’s grasp of English, preparing them for entry into Western universities and ultimately successful careers in a global marketplace.
- Government policy: as education systems struggle to match demand for school places or meet high standards increasingly expected, governments are reforming policies to enable more operators and investors to establish and manage international schools.
- Internationalisation of labour: increased labour mobility means ever greater demand for high quality school options. International schools are viewed as most suitable, as these offer children a learning pathway that is easily transferred to their home country or to another international location.
A number of branded international schools currently operate in key emerging-markets, but in many cases their capacity limits have been met, with overwhelming demand resulting in waiting lists. Indeed, the overall growth in the market shows few signs of abating.
The drivers of growth highlighted above remain robust and are in fact extending into new markets. For instance, growth in the Middle East and East Asia is well documented, but there are signs that market conditions in parts of Africa and South America will open up new opportunities for the sector.
There is little doubt that the international schools’ market is an exciting sector to be a part of. However, it is vital to ensure that you enter the market with the right school operating partner.