Once catering only to diplomats and expatriates in far-flung countries, the market for international schools has completely transformed. The multibillion-dollar industry is expected to be worth $89 billion by the year 2026, according to Forbes. The surge in international schools goes hand in hand with an increase in globalization and the need to be able to communicate in the global village.
The emergence of English as a global language has put an enormous pressure on education systems across the globe to incorporate English into the curriculum. As public education systems slowly change their course towards more English-centric curriculums, the demand for expensive private international schools should decrease, but this is not the case. The number of international schools and student enrolment in these schools continues to grow at an unprecedented pace. In the past 6 years, English-medium K-12 schools have grown by more than 40%, educating over 4 million students (Forbes).
As the future of global economy, Asian countries were the first to encourage local populations to attend international schools to gain a better understanding of the Western world. Although Asia remains the major hub of international schools, many international schools have successfully tapped the Western markets and are running successful operations in the U.S and Canada. International schools in the United States are running at full capacity with waitlists and ever-increasing tuitions. NAIS numbers indicate that tuitions of these premium private institutions outperform inflation by a huge margin.
Thus, it is not just an international English curriculum that is fueling the demand for an international education at a young age. International schools continue to attract local students because of their diverse student and teacher bodies. This diversity enables learners to gain a global perspective from a very early stage and offers them a comparative advantage at being global citizens. The hefty price pays off fairly well when graduates of international schools perform much better at foreign universities and multinational firms.