Global demand for international school education has not suffered in the pandemic and parents are prioritising online learning provision and pastoral care when choosing a school, a new report has found.
The white paper by ISC Research found that 59 per cent of the admissions staff surveyed said their student enrolment for the 2020-2021 academic year had increased as a result of the impact of Covid.
But schools have expressed concern for the uncertainty of the market into the future, with some facing difficulties in planning, the report said.
“Some of these schools say they have experienced substantial change in their student demographic since the pandemic so have also lost students, but overall, their enrolment figures are higher than recent years,” the report said.
It added: “In some cases, admissions staff attribute this to border restrictions and the comparative safety of their country meaning some expatriate families have remained in country longer than initially intended.
“But the vast majority ascribed this enrolment increase to the quality of their online or distance learning provision and the resulting increase in reputation.”
One admissions leader told researchers: “The poor execution of online learning by other schools has generated interest in our service offering.”
In terms of parents demanding increasing emphasis on pupil well-being, the report said: “The impact of Covid-19 has resulted in parents making additional demands on their child’s school including structured student wellbeing provision, rigorous distance learning, and comprehensive health and safety protocols.
“Many international schools delivered this to an adequate or good standard during the early phase of the pandemic. Prospective parents are now basing their decisions on evidence of this provision and the school’s ability to respond to a crisis, in addition to the other education factors that motivate them. Most parents want – and require – a fee point they can personally afford.”
ISC Research is now predicting “a period of fluctuation”, and increased demand within the market.
The report concludes: “The desire for international school education may well remain, but parents want ‘more bang for their buck’; they expect value for money and that no longer just means the provision of a pathway to global higher education. Parents require the full service for their child while they prepare to reach that destination.”
The report also looks at other trends in what parents appear to value when choosing an international school.
The report underlines increasing interest in bilingual education and flexible and hybrid curriculum models.
Research also highlighted the ongoing trend among parents to favour teachers of certain nationalities and native English speakers.
Only 8 per cent of admissions staff said that teacher nationality is “not important” to most of their parents in their selection decision.