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Expert Analysis: Increasing Demand from Malaysian Families Driving the Growth of the International School Industry
Author: Anne Keeling, ISC Research

English-medium international schools are increasingly valued by the world’s universities. “International schools are of paramount importance for us,” says Karen McKellin, Executive Director of International Student Initiatives at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, where 70% of all international undergraduate students come from international schools. “Their students meet all of our requirements; they are well prepared to mix and participate, they have very good facility of English language, and they’ve been exposed to internationally recognised curricula,” she explains. At the University of Manchester in England, where 25% of all students are international, Liz Green, a Senior International Officer says: “There’s massive competition now to recruit the brightest and best young people from around the world and international schools are incredibly valuable to us for their very bright and fully rounded students.”

Demand for International School Places by Malaysian Families

An average of 80% of students attending the world’s English-medium international schools today are the children of local families who hope that attending an international school, many of which deliver globally respected curricula and examinations, increases the opportunities for a student to achieve the best potential for university and higher education. In Malaysia, this number currently stands at closer to 50%, a figure that has been increasing dramatically in recent years in line with changes in government policy.
In 2012, the Malaysian government removed a limit on the number of Malaysian citizens who could enroll at international schools, thereby paving the way for a substantial increase in the number of local students attending the international schools across the country.
This change in policy, as well as other government changes (including the requirement for Malaysian public schools to deliver all subjects in Bahasa Malaysia), has resulted in a major change in the shape of the international schools market in Malaysia. Since 2009, the total number of students attending the international schools has increased by 80%; the majority of which are local Malaysian children.
Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of the International School Consultancy, says, “Today there is a massive demand for English-speaking education in Malaysia, as in several other countries throughout the world. The future growth of the international schools market is very much dependent on how many people can afford to pay the international school fees”.


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This article originally appeared on Education Destination Malaysia. To read more about the article, please click here.