International school students considering a wider range of study abroad destinations

Two reports about to be released by ISC Research highlight that an increasing number of families from non-English-speaking countries are selecting education for their children in the language of English from the very earliest age to increase their success through higher education. Coupled with this, many parents throughout Asia are choosing Western-style schools that study towards Western qualifications for their children to prepare them well for university in the West.

Wealth and aspiration fuelling demand

The ISC Research 2018 Global Report on the world’s international schools market, published this month, will show that the number of schools delivering learning in the language of English (English-medium) and following an international curriculum has grown by 29% from September 2013 to September 2017 (and a staggering 255% since the year 2000). Even more significant is the number of students attending these schools which has increased by 33% over the same period (406% in the last 17 years). There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, “Globalisation has provided the stimulus for much of the development in the international schools market,” notes the report. “Massive investment by Western businesses, especially in Asian economies, has resulted in substantial growth in the number of highly skilled and well-paid expatriates. As a consequence, there has been a large rise in demand for international schooling from expatriate communities.”

Secondly, the report adds, “The rapid growth of many economies, especially in Asia, has generated a vast increase in the amount of individual wealth among local families in those countries. For example, 2017 reports suggest that there are around 1.6 million USD millionaires and nearly 650 USD billionaires residing in China. Many families have high aspirations for their children and want them to receive the best education, which usually means enrolling them abroad for their schooling or at international schools in their home countries, followed by undergraduate studies at Western universities. The scale of the increase in individual wealth has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of local families who can afford international school tuition fees, leading to a comparable increase in demand for places at international schools.”

The growth of the international schools sector, 2000–2017, with projections through 2027. Source: ISC Research

The growth of the international schools sector, 2000–2017, with projections through 2027. Source: ISC Research.


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Studying Abroad: Cultural Preference Tops Academics for Gen Z

A research conducted by AFS Intercultural Programs concluded that Generation Z prefers the cultural aspect of studying abroad over considering the quality of education.

Over 5,000 students were surveyed from 27 countries around the world with ages ranging from 13 to 18 years old between March and December 2016.


According to the study, 67% of the students have shown high value on the cultural experiences that are bound to come while studying abroad compared to the scholastics and education.

Daniel Obst, the president and CEO of AFS expressed that based on the findings, Generation Z students do not only want to travel overseas for the sake of it but actually want to experience what the local people of foreign countries experience. He adds that they are keen on having a ‘global’ status on their identity when compared to older generations.

Of the 67% of culture-yearning students, there are two groups. ‘Cultural hitchhikers’ or those whose primary focus is on cultural experience that does not have high financial resources make up 36% of the respondents. On the other hand, ‘cultural floaters’ or students with high financial resources and who intends to experience other cultures are 31% of the students.


When broken down by nationality, three-quarters of the students who prefer culture more than academics are European, followed by 57% from Latin America, 58% from Southeast Asia and 72% from North America.

According to a report, Mapping Generation Z: Attitudes toward International Education Programs, AFS discovered that the top destinations of this generation were Anglophone or English-speaking countries to be most considered, achieving a percentage of 77% of students. The countries most preferred were the US, UK and Australia.

Western European countries like Germany, France and Italy faired 65% as favourable countries and China being the least favourable fairing 38% of the Gen Z students.

“These findings paint a picture of large growth potential for the traditionally popular English destinations and set the tone for increasing competitive pressures among them” the report noted.

Concerning security issues, 36% of students expressed their anxiety but after May 2016, the percentage increased to 52% as the terrorist attacks were publicised globally.

Other issues concerning studying abroad were making no friends, followed by homesickness and school re-entry requirements upon returning home, each shared by 48% of students.

None of the respondents had been on an international exchange before this but 60% has considered the possibility.

Hristo Banov, manager of the management information unit at AFS and the study’s lead researcher said that in order to increase the interest of students to study in foreign countries, it is important for information to travel by word of mouth.

He adds that, in today’s environment, ‘genuine, personal referral’ remains unchanged although students listen to experiences from immediate friends and family but also get to see the experiences of others from their extended social media footprint.

Survey Shows Three-quarters Of Global Parents To Consider Studying Abroad

HSBC recently released its latest survey, Learning for Life, covering 5,500 parents in 16 countries around the world, showing that 77% would consider sending their child to study abroad either for undergraduate or postgraduate studies.
The latest installment of HSBC’s The Value of Education research series, Learning for Life is based on a comprehensive national survey of parents around the world who have at least one child aged 23 years old or younger. It was conducted online by Ipsos MORI in March and April 2015 (with supplemental in-person interviews in the UAE).
The 16 countries sample included countries popular for sending students abroad like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey. Research showed that close to two thirds (64%) of parents would consider study abroad for their children’s undergraduate studies, with an even higher majority (70%) considering postgraduate study.

parents and students


The report affirms that globally, parents in Asia are most receptive to send their child abroad for undergraduate study. Malaysia leads the way with four out of five parents (80%) open to the idea, followed by Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore at 74%. Expectedly, only around half of parents in western countries – Canada (51%), Australia (52%) and France (53%) – would consider sending their child to study abroad.

The survey also highlighted a number of key countries as probably hotspots for postgraduate demand – 88% of parents in India, followed by Turkey (83%), China and Malaysia (82%) lead the countries for those most likely to consider overseas postgraduate studies for their children.

Interestingly, nearly eight in ten (78%) parents believed their children’s prospect for becoming more knowledge as a strong benefit of a university education. Moreover, half of these parents believed their children has more opportunity today to study abroad as compared to their own generation, a promising trend on the increasing importance of higher education. Over half (51%) also saw studying abroad as a beneficial opportunity for their children to experience life and cultures abroad.

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All Eyes On ASEAN To Usher New Wave Of Regional Student Mobility



Educators would be pleased to know that one of the most exciting trends in international student mobility is a rise in intra-region mobility – the increasing tendency of international students leaving their home country to study in a neighboring country within their home region.

We believe that the increases in regional student mobility are being charged by several factors: 1) overall improved quality and capacity of regional education hubs 2) boost by government with better policies and infrastructure 3) greater affordability of regional study destinations and 4) student preference to be closer to home.

A good example of regional mobility programs that understand this shifting demand patterns is the Erasmus programme in Europe. Now known as Erasmus+, this new programme for education, training, youth and sport will provide funding for 4 million people to study, train, or volunteer abroad till 2020. The programme greatly exemplifies how regional mobility patterns can be accelerated with the support of broader economic and political cooperation within the region. And with indications showing similar systems being established among ASEAN states, this is certainly positive and worth noting. Read more