International School Choice in Singapore | Educational guides

Over the past three years, Singapore has seen an influx of former Hong Kongers driven out by the city’s extreme Covid measures and stifling new national security laws. Dozens of companies have moved, taking their staff with them.“Singapore has handled the pandemic well,” says Lee Quane, director of global relocation consultancy ECA International. “It was good to deploy the vaccine, had a clear and open plan before other cities in Asia.” The downside has been a marked increase in the cost of living: rent and tuition have both increased over the past 12 months. There is also an increase in demand for school places. Although Western expatriates are still arriving in Singapore, ISC Research, which provides data and intelligence on the international school market, identifies most of the growth as coming from Asia, particularly China, Hong Kong, South Korea, India and Japan. Singaporean children are not allowed to attend international schools.“Singapore has definitely benefited from Hong Kong’s demise,” says Ashwin Assomull, partner at LEK consulting. “But the growth in education is not as strong as everyone expected. Registrations are increasing, but only by 1% out of 2%.The past few years have been challenging, but Singapore remains one of the world’s fastest growing and most competitive markets for international K-12 education. With over 60 international schools, it offers a diversity of programs and fee points. At 16+, the IB is the most popular qualification, but there are plenty of good options for A levels as well.Despite the pandemic, Singapore’s international school market has grown tremendously. An influx of new schools, including three offshoots of high-end British independents, all opened in 2020.Brighton College, a branch of the British public school known for its strong academics, welcomed pupils to its second partner school (the first is in Abu Dhabi) in August 2020. It offers premium primary education (the fee is 34 000 SGD) from kindergarten to 6th grade.A second British import, the Cambridge-based Perse School, also established a primary school in 2020, following the UK’s Cambridge Primary Curriculum. Its facilities are less sophisticated than some schools, which is reflected in the more affordable tuition (25,000 SGC).The last of the 2020 openings was North London Collegiate (NLCS) which already has schools in Jeju, Dubai and Bangkok. Located on a purpose-built campus, the continuing education school teaches an IB curriculum and describes itself as being for “scholars and critical thinkers”. The fees are among the most expensive in Singapore (up to 47,000 SGD).“North London Collegiate has been a real success story,” says LEK’s Assomull. “It focuses on academic rigor that resonates with both Western expats and Chinese.”This is territory that Dulwich College knows well. It was the first UK independent to open in Singapore in 2014 and quickly established a reputation for strong academics. Located on a purpose-built campus in Bukit Batok, the high-end facilities incur some of the highest fees in Singapore. Part of a network of 10 international schools in Asia, it provides top-quality continuing education to 2,000 students who take the IGCSE and IB exams. The school is also highly respected for its Bilingual Early Childhood Program which provides lessons in both English and Mandarin.In the coming years, another British import, Wellington College, is set to join the fray, developed in partnership with Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim. It joins Wellington’s branches in Thailand and China and will accommodate 2,000 students following the English program and offering the IB.As the new openings in Singapore attest, branded school groups are a growing sector. ISC Research shows an overall increase in market share of 23-38% over the past five years. Many are expensive, but demand is still high – enrollment in fee-paying schools has increased by 18% over the past five years.“Mark schools are always something everyone wants to get involved in,” says LEK’s Ashwin Assomull. “The demand for international K-12 education is growing and parent schools need revenue. The brand name gives the investor a head start: Parents may not have heard of the school, but investors can relate to its educational background. It’s a symbiotic relationship.Newcomers to Singapore often target the more well-known, long-established schools. These include Singapore American School (SAS), Tanglin Trust, United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA), and Dulwich College. United World College is the most international of the group, with two campuses, training more than 5,000 students.British families often head straight for Tanglin (over 50% of students hold British passports), famous for its long waiting lists. Founded in 1925, it is the only international school in Singapore to offer both IB and A levels in sixth form. It educates 2800 students aged 3 to 18 and is one of Singapore’s top performing international schools for the IB. “Our exam results last year were the highest they have ever been,” says Tom Evans, director of marketing and communications.The school’s reputation is very important in Singapore, says Janelle Torres, ISC’s research manager for Southeast Asia. “This is why legacy schools such as Dulwich, Tanglin Trust and UWCSEA are so popular.”Not all new openings are UK spin-offs. Nexus International, owned by Malaysia-based Taylor’s Schools, opened in 2011 and moved to an impressive new vertical campus in Aljunied in 2020 that can accommodate 2,000 students. Nexus offers a hybrid program from the early years to IGCSE and then to the IB Diploma. The emphasis is on a flexible learning environment with open classrooms. The school has a strong reputation in sport, especially swimming, thanks to its top-of-the-range aquatic center with an Olympic-size pool.Invictus International School, one of the most affordable international schools in Singapore (fees around SGD 20,000), recently upgraded its facilities opening a new campus in 2021. The school started out as a small primary school , but the new location offers K-12 education. at IGCSE and A levels. Invictus also offers an affordable Bilingual Primary School programme.“We see a greater propensity to learn Mandarin,” says LEK’s Assomull. “Schools with bilingual programs are doing particularly well, including the Canadian International School and Dulwich.”One of the biggest areas of growth in Singapore is in more affordable schools where fees hover around SGP 20,000 (compared to SGP 40,000+ in the high-end market) and are popular with Chinese families.“Mid-price schools are a growth area in Singapore,” says LEK’s Assomull. “The government is encouraging this sector because they believe the market is dominated by premium brands, which not everyone can afford. These cheaper schools achieve amazing academic results.More affordable options include 5 Steps Academy, DPS International School, Invictus, the Grange, GIG International, and Middleton International School. The latter provides bilingual education and belongs to the Eton House educational group, which has 130 schools in 11 countries. It has three campuses in Singapore, including the West Coast Campus which opened in 2022, offering Kindergarten through Year 5 and the main campus in Tampines through Year 12.One World International at Jurong also offers more affordable fees and has a nationality cap of 30% ensuring a truly diverse student body. It also offers a bilingual Chinese program from grades 1 to 5 and a program that mixes the IB primary years with the IGCSE and the IB Diploma.“It is entirely possible to find a comprehensive international education at affordable prices in Singapore,” says Anne Murphy, Education Consultant at ITS Education Asia.The shift to more affordable schools reflects a global trend, according to ISC Research, which cites a 19% increase in the number of students enrolled in mid-priced international schools between 2017 and 2022. Several factors have contributed to the growth, including reduction of expatriates. benefits, which often included tuition fees, and increased demand from families in the host country. “The market for international schools is expanding to meet the needs of a wider range of students,” says a recent white paper from ISC Research.

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