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Middle East continues to dominate global international schools market

The Middle East region continues to dominate the global international schools market and the latest research predicts strong continued growth into the foreseeable future, according to a study presented at the ongoing GESS 2014 exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Research and data on the international schools in the Middle East were collected and analysed by the International School Consultancy Group (ISC) which has been delivering market intelligence on the global international schools market for over 25 years. 

According to the very latest ISC data, there are currently 1,213 international schools in the Middle East teaching over 1 million students. This is 30% of all international school students worldwide. 

ISC defines international schools as those that deliver a curriculum to any combination of infant, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country; what are known as English-medium international schools. Many of these schools offer an international curriculum. A number of international schools also offer bilingual provision (with English as one of the languages of learning), and some deliver a combination of international and local curriculum.

UAE dominates

The UAE continues to dominate the market (both in terms of the Middle East and globally) with 433 international schools. Saudi Arabia has 195 international schools and Qatar 130. The world’s leading city for international schools is Dubai where growth has been dramatic in recent years. There are currently 233 international schools in Dubai alone. ISC predicts that Dubai will see continued strong growth for several years to come.

Student enrolment at Dubai’s international schools has risen by 40% since 2009 to 191,000. Total annual tuition fee income has increased by 55%since 2009 and for the 2012-2013 academic year was USD$1.2 billion. 

According to ISC market intelligence, Dubai’s schools are currently at 90% capacity and its premium schools (the most sought after and typically larger international schools) are operating at, or near, full capacity with waiting lists. The growth in student enrolment is in part due to the recent increase in the number of Emirati nationals making international schools their education choice - an increase of 34% within a decade.

The KHDA (Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority) predicts that student enrolment in Dubai will grow by 7% per annum for at least the next five years. 60 school developments (both new schools and expansions) are planned, several of which will be accepting students in September of this year including The Safa British Academy, GEMS Winchester and Cambridge International Schools, Dubai English Speaking School and Nord Anglia International School.

The Middle East

International schools in the Middle East now employ over 87,000 full time staff, the majority of who are qualified expatriate teachers and leaders; mostly British nationals and North Americans.

As for the learning, 44% follow a UK oriented curriculum and 29% are US orientated. 37% of the international schools say they are internationally oriented in their learning approach. 18% of the international schools in the Middle East also offer bilingual provision (with English as one of the languages of learning).
28% of the international schools in the Middle East have over 1,000 students.

The global market

There are currently 7,016 English-medium international schools globally meeting the learning needs of almost 3.54 million students. Within ten years ISC predicts there will be over 11,000 international schools teaching 6.3million students using English as the language for learning.

The International School Consultancy Group

The International School Consultancy Group (ISC) is the leading organisation in the world for research, data and analysis on the international schools market. It provides a range of services to meet the market intelligence needs of schools, higher education, school suppliers, investors, developers and professionals involved with international education. More information is available at www.iscresearch.com