The International Education Boom

There are few professions in the world that provide the same breadth of employment opportunities as teaching, and with the current boom in international education there are an increasing number of vacancies for teachers across the globe. For teachers looking for a change of environment and an unforgettable experience the international education sector deserves serious consideration.

Since the end of the 20th Century there has been massive growth in international education which has seen the number of international schools more than double. The International School Consultancy (ISC) which provides data and intelligence on the international school sector, reports that the number of internationals schools has increasing from 2,584 institutions in 2000, to 7,693 schools catering for over four million students in 2015.

Since the end of the 20th Century there has been massive growth in international education which has seen the number of international schools more than double.

International School Consultancy

Nishimachi International School Board Meeting

The international education sector is now a major industry and one that has come a long way from its humble, pragmatic beginnings. The very first international schools were opened during the post-war period of the 1950s to cater for the children from globally mobile families, Third Culture Kids (TCKs). These institutions were established in areas with significant numbers of western expatriate families such as Singapore, Hong Kong and India. The spread of multinational organizations and process of globalization saw the number of expatriate families grow and the demand for international schools increase considerable through the 1980s and 1990s.


In the 21st Century, international schools continue to cater for the needs of expatriate families and Third Culture Kids but they are increasingly servicing affluent families in their host nations who are looking for an English-medium, western education. The primary factors driving this demand are the perceived inadequacies of national education systems, a recognition of the importance of English language proficiency and the desire to gain valuable cultural capital.

As one Chinese parent, Tao Sun, explained to ISC Research,

If you want your child to have many options for world-class universities, and if you want them to survive, thrive and succeed there, then they need to start learning and speaking English as soon as they can. That’s why many families who can afford it, look to schools that provide such an opportunity for their children

Tao Sun, explained to ISC Research

Do you speak English

The Asia-Pacific region, which has experienced huge economic growth over the past two decades, has spawned a new generation of affluent middle-classers keen to ensure their children are able to continue enjoying the standards of living they have become accustomed to. Much of this region, East Asia in particular, still adheres to a strong Confucian ethic which places a high value on education. Parents able to afford an education which will give their children an advantage over their peers, consider international schooling a worthwhile investment, essential for success in the increasingly competitive world of international commerce.

International schools in Asia provide a range of international curricula but by far the most popular education systems are the British system, the American system and International Baccalaureate (IB) system. Many students who graduate from these schools then go on to study at university in the UK, the US or Australia.

UK USA and Australia

It is predicted that international schooling will continue to grow rapidly over the coming decade, with some reports predicting the Asia-Pacific region will have as many as 7,000 international schools catering for more than 5 million students by 2024. China, which currently has 530 international schools that cater for around 300,000 students, has huge potential for future growth particularly if the current restrictions on international education are relaxed.

Of the 500 international schools in China, most are currently foreign-owned and only open to foreign nationals because Chinese nationals are forbidden from attending foreign-owned schools. However, there is increasing demand from Chinese parents for English-medium education and over the last few years a number of English-medium Sino-Foreign Cooperative Schools, which meet government regulations, have been established. This trend is likely to continue and this is an area which is expected to experience massive growth.

As demand across Asia continues, school developers are expected to continue expanding their institutions and opening new schools to meet the growth. But while new classrooms, buildings and campuses can be easily erected, finding experienced and qualified educators to lead these schools remains a far greater challenge.

The greatest challenge will be the recruitment of top quality teachers. Competition between international schools for the best teachers and leaders is already high and this invariably dictates school fees. Premium international schools charge high fees because they have to offer better salary and benefits packages than other schools in order to recruit and retain the right teachers.

Nicholas Brummitt explains that


Salaries and benefits are set to play a huge role in attracting educators to international schools. Another important factor which will influence schools’ abilities to attract teachers is location and the livability of the area. Schools located in Asia’s polluted industrial cities are going to have greater difficult recruiting quality educators than schools in more desirable destinations.

Teachers willing to take move abroad and use their talents to teach students at an international school will have find themselves rewarded, professionally and financially. As the demand for qualified, experienced, Western teachers intensifies, schools have had to make their salaries and employment packages more competitive. Many teachers who opt to work abroad find themselves earning a salary equivalent to what they would be earning in the UK while living in a country with lower taxes and lower costs of living. International schools often require teachers to sign a two year contract and many schools include free accommodation near the school and return flights to the teacher’s home country as part of the package.

If you are considering teaching abroad, it is important to be selective. Employment opportunities in the international school sector are plentiful and extremely varied, so it’s essential to do some research about the school and the school’s location. There is a huge difference between living on an idyllic tropical island, such as Koh Samui or Phuket, and being landlocked in one of Asia’s highly polluted industrial centers – after all you want your experience abroad to be unforgettable for all the right reasons !

Of the 500 international schools in China, most are currently foreign-owned and only open to foreign nationals because Chinese nationals are forbidden from attending foreign-owned schools.


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The International Education Boom Opportunities Abound in the Growing International Education Sector is written by Daniel Maxwell