Complex Made Simple

UAE leads Gulf region with most number of international schools; growth continues as demand expands

The expansion of international schools in the Gulf region continues, registering the second fastest growth rate in the world and now has 982 international schools in the region with a million students collectively paying $6 billion in fees.

The data was released as part of the latest research conducted by the International School Consultancy Group (ISC), a leader in delivering market intelligence on the global international schools market, with the full report to be presented at the forthcoming International Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF) in Dubai.

ISC’s data show the UAE ranked first as the country with the highest number of international schools, dominating the region with 439, up from 433 in the first quarter of this year. Saudi Arabia has 195 international schools and Qatar 130, although this is bound to increase as the country’s Supreme Education Council (SEC) has just approved 26 new private schools out of the 90 applications it received.

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.

Elsewhere in the region, Kuwait now hosts 80 international schools, teaching close to 90,000 students; while Oman has 58 operational international schools, with a population of nearly 60,000 students.

According to ISC’s report, the fastest growing international school market is currently Asia. The ISC says East Asia, the Gulf and South America will all be the source of new demand in future, as appetite increases for access to world-class quality education.

IPSEF, the only international business conference for private and international schools, addresses a wide range of issues concerning the private education market in the Middle East. Scheduled on September 23-25, 2014 at the Dubai Knowledge Village Auditorium, this year’s conference theme is Delivering Best Practice in the Middle East.”This event aims to provide educators, investors and governments from across the region with a comprehensive appraisal of best practices in the region’s thriving private education market, including Dubai’s growing appetite for international schools. We’re delighted to be working with Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority on this event to provide education stakeholders in the region the insights they would need to address the challenges and take advantage of opportunities in the emirate’s, as well as the region’s private education and international schools market,” said Mark Roelofsen, Co-Founder, IPSEF.

Richard Gaskell, International Director, ISC Research Ltd, will present the other significant findings of the report at IPSEF. His presentation, entitled The Changing Face of International Schools: historical growth, current overview and future prospects, will provide an analysis of the global international school market with a special focus on the Middle East (Western Asia).

In addition to tracking the growth of the international schools market in the region, IPSEF has also gathered regional and international experts who will shed light on how education regulators work in the region, curriculum trends and quality standards, staff recruitment to address the expected boom in education population in the next five years, as well as other important challenges and opportunities confronting the private education sector in the region.

IPSEF is being held in partnership with Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA);it is also supported by Oxford University Press, The Parthenon Group, GL Education, the Cambridge University Press, Meritorius Schools and D³ Consultants; in association with ISC and UK Trade & Investment.