International schools are a fast-growing industry – especially in emerging economies like China and Singapore.
While it used to be the case that mainly expatriate families or the super-wealthy send their children to international schools, today more and more local upper middle-class parents are also enrolling their kids in these schools.
According to ISC Research, the demand for international education, particularly delivered in English, is becoming increasingly more accessible worldwide.
There are now over 10,000 English-medium international schools globally, catering to over five million students.
In ISC Research’s Pathway from International School to University report, the top college choices of international students were revealed, as well as the reasons behind these choices.
A clear path to a quality education
ISC Schools Director, Richard Gaskell said, “The different school types close to home has changed the way many parents approach their child’s education. As more international schools have opened around the world and incomes have increased, so parents in many countries have become increasingly aware that the two traditional solutions; either their country’s state education, or a foreign boarding school thousands of miles away from home, are no longer the only two options available for their child.
“International schools, which offer a Western-style of teaching and learning in the language of English, and international curricula working towards globally-respected qualifications, have become the preferred route for an increasing number of local, as well as expatriate families.”
A main reason, according to ISC Research and backed by several online reports, is that “the children of local aspirational parents seeking out for them a reliable pathway to some of the best undergraduate degrees in the world.”
Getting an international school education makes it easier for them to gain entry into top universities abroad, which in turn, gives them very attractive career prospects upon graduation.
High levels of academic achievement
The report stated that more than 90 percent of students enrolled in international schools gained university places in the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates – all of which are popular study destinations.
The high grade averages of the three most popular qualifications offered by the world’s international schools – A Levels, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and Advanced Placement – were highlighted in the report as a driving force behind college placement.
“They suggest significantly higher levels of academic achievement than global averages. In addition, 83% of respondents in the survey stated that over 90% of their 2017-2018 grade 12 students gained places in higher education.”
Students reported a university’s location as the biggest factor in their choice, followed by the quality of education and the cost, according to Forbes. The fourth-ranked factor was “visa benefits before or after the degree”.
Challenges faced by schools
The report also identified some key challenges schools might face in guiding students through the transition.
Diane Glass, Commercial Director of ISC Research told The PIE News, “For many international schools, their students are considering not just two or three countries for higher education, but a wide range. The research identified that there is a huge challenge for international schools to remain well informed of all higher education opportunities in all the countries that could be considered by their students.”
One of the reasons cited by the survey respondents in choosing a university abroad was “visa benefits before or after the degree”, schools must also be aware of changing immigration policies in destination countries, but it’s not their sole responsibility.
“Associations representing universities in a country need to be more proactive about informing international schools and their college counsellors about immigration policy changes and post-study work visas in order to ensure such benefits are considered during the student selection process. If it is left to the college counsellors to search for policy changes, then opportunities are likely to be missed.” Glass said.
Here are the top 10 college choices for international students. Take note that the No.6 spot was tied between three universities: