Demand for pupils learning in English at international schools worldwide is booming, according to the latest research.
Around 4.5 million students take classes at 8,600 schools in almost every country in the world.
The numbers have surged since the year 2000, when the schools served mainly expat families. Then, fewer than 1 million students attended 2,500 learning institutions.
Now, the trend is for local children to scramble for places to gain qualifications to move on to universities and colleges in the West.
Leading the boom are children in the East, where numbers have risen by 13%, mostly in China.
Other countries with huge increases in pupils are Myanmar, Peru, Colombia and India.
UAE leads the way
However, the Middle East is leading the growth spurt.
The number of schools has increased by more than 40% since 2012, while pupil numbers have expanded from almost 950,000 to 1.4 million during the same time. The greatest number of schools is in the United Arab Emirates – with 593 international schools and 600,000 students.
The International Schools Consultancy research predicts within five years, almost 6.5 million students will have a place at an English-speaking international school.
“An increasing number of local families are expected to seek out international school places as their reputation continues to expand,” said Director for International Schools at ISC Research, Richard Gaskell.
“Far from being seen as an option for elite and expatriate families only, many local families are investing in international schools to ensure their child has an English-speaking education with learning and qualifications that prepares them well for university.”
Demand for teachers
Average fees vary between countries. In Asia, tuition fees are $17,272 a year, while in the Middle East, they are $7,085.
The rising numbers have also triggered a demand for teachers to deliver lessons.
Staff levels stand at 426,000 today, but are expected to climb to 581,000 in 2021.
“The need to attract more teachers of the calibre demanded by both the schools and parents, is becoming an increasing concern for the whole market. Some school groups and universities are now considering a variety of solutions to address the future demand,” said Gaskell.
“Potential options include upskilling local teachers, remote top-up training, conversion courses, and more.”