Student enrollment increases by 70% for international school groups

With around 616 school groups currently teaching 2.18 million students, the number of international schools that are part of a broader brand continues to grow, according to a white paper published in April.

ISC Research, which provides data and intelligence on the international schools market, defines a school group or brand as “one that owns international schools that are part of the group or, has a financial interest in international schools by managing them or by providing key services to them without actually owning them”.

It identified the top five school groups in the market as Maple Bear Global Schools Ltd, Beaconhouse Group, Grupo SEB, The City School and Nord Anglia Education Ltd, which collectively own or manage 867 international schools.

GEMS Education was identified as the top school group for student enrollment, with 124,000 students in over 44 schools, primarily in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Revenue generated from annual fees for international school groups has increased by 67% over the past five years, despite the global pandemic.

Talk to News from the PIEAshley Kirk, director of sales at ISC Research, attributed the growth in part to increased parental awareness of international schools.

“Many parents are attracted to the level of learning and the global qualifications promised to their child by an international school, as well as a more Western approach to learning that helps students to become creative and independent thinkers,” said said Kirk.

Discussing why parents choose a school that is part of a group, rather than an international school that is not affiliated with a brand, Kirk said that “brand recognition” and “trust in educational standards” were important factors, along with “the potential to move a child to a similar school with common teaching and learning, qualifications and school ethos if the family has to move between cities or countries”.

“The expansion of school groups is being done through the acquisition of existing schools that have experienced financial difficulties during the pandemic”

Although more than half of the 377 new international schools under construction or about to be built are part of a group, Kirk said that “most expansions by school groups occur through the acquisition of existing schools that have struggled financially during the pandemic.”

Of the 12,853 international schools present on the market today, 4,861 are part of a school group, 62% of the market remaining individual.

International school groups “carry the flag for the entire industry,” ISC Research said in its article, which also noted that brands can “play an important advocacy role” with governments and universities, and benefit across the international school sector through collaboration and sharing of best practices. .

ISC Research predicts that the international schools sector as a whole will continue to grow, saying the market is “attractive to those looking for a long-term investment”.

Although the pandemic – and now global inflation – has impacted incomes, Kirk says schools and international groups have made themselves “more affordable” in response.

“The demand for international education will continue as long as standards remain and fees are accessible,” he said.