What are the international-school options in China?

APAC is seeing rapid growth in schools thanks to economic expansion and mobility. Over-subscribed schools face competition from new contenders and local populations are keen to educate their children in prestigious institutions.

The availability of international schools in China is increasing rapidly. While this is good news for assignees with accompanying families and for their employers, a system of segmentation in the international-schools market can make it challenging for parents to assess which school would be best for their child, as Richard Gaskell, director for international schools at ISC Research, explains.

The international-schools market in China is a segmented one, and severe restrictions are imposed on local children whose families wish them to attend foreign-owned schools. However, there is an increasing demand by Chinese families for Western-style education taught in the English language, and so different types of international school are emerging to cater specifically for these students.

Understanding this segmentation is important for expatriate families when they are preparing for a move to China.

China’s international-school options

The international-schools market in China is relatively young. The latest data from ISC Research, which tracks developments in the world’s international-schools market, identifies 525 English-medium international schools in China. Most of these are located in Tier 1 cities, with 23 per cent in Beijing and 22 per cent in Shanghai. Many others are located in the provincial capitals, such as Chengdu and Guangzhou. Not all these schools are for expatriates.