Education in China

What the evidence shows

Demand for international education in China continues to grow – but how is the market changing, and what challenges face the sponsors who want to open new schools? Anne Keeling has all the data.

A growing market

372,000 children in China are now enrolled in an international style of education and 66% of these children are Chinese nationals attending international Chinese-owned private schools in the country. Latest market trends from ISC Research on international education in China include data from this school year (2018-2019). They show that the international private schools market in China has grown substantially due to an increasing demand from Chinese parents for an international, bilingual approach to learning for their children.

Five years ago, there were 629 international schools in China, many of which were schools for the children of foreign nationals that had very limited access to Chinese children. Today, there are 857 international schools in China and 563 of them are international Chineseowned private schools. Over that same period, there has been a 63.6% increase in student enrolment, with 245,500 students now enrolled in the international Chinese private schools.

These schools are particularly successful because, during the compulsory years of education, the Chinese curriculum can be integrated with elements of international teaching and learning, including some learning in the language of English. Such a bicultural educational approach is what a growing number of Chinese families want: one that retains local culture and history, while introducing international elements that provide the skills necessary to prepare children for global higher education and careers.

Why this market change?

There are several factors that have prompted this market shift, including an increase in education expenditure by more families as a result of a growth in prosperity in the country; the impact of China’s two-child policy which is now seeing an effect within Early Years education; amendments that have been made to education regulations in recent years, which now provide clearer guidelines and more opportunities for foreign schools to engage with the private education sector; and an increasing awareness by Chinese parents of locally accessible private international education opportunities.

Foreign education brands are driving the success of many of the international Chinese private schools. During the past five years, 31 independent school brands, mostly from the UK, but also from the US, have established agreements with Chinese schools and investors in order to deliver teaching expertise and an international style of education.

Such partnerships are appealing to wealthier Chinese families who value the educational heritage, reputation, brand prestige, and opportunities that the UK and US schools are bringing to China.

International schooling options

The current options  accessible to local families are available in many of China’s Tier 1 cities. Although Shanghai and Beijing dominate, there are now 55 international schools in Shenzhen, 47 in Guangzhou, 25 in Chengdu, and several in a growing number of cities throughout China.

ISC Research is aware of at least 48 new international schools due to open in China in the next few years, many of which will be the international Chinese private schools partnering with foreign independent school brands.

ISC China Market Intelligence Report

Much of this data about the growth of English-medium K-12 international schools market is collected by ISC’s own field-based researchers in key countries most appropriate for international school development, including China, and is available as a series of special reports.

The ISC China Market Intelligence Report provides schools, investors and developers with detailed data and market intelligence to support due diligence and strategic planning for new school developments and agreements. The data and intelligence in this report is gathered directly from schools, government bodies and reputable associations in China to produce detailed demand analysis of this developing market.

The 400+ page China report is highly detailed and easy-to-read to provide all decision-makers with accurate, current, indepth understanding about international school investment and development potential in China today and into the future. It includes:

  • Socio-economic data influencing private, international education demand in China
  • Education policy and legislation impacting international school development in China
  • International school data analysis throughout China’s key provinces
  • Specific sections detailing supply, demand and partnership potential for China’s international Chinese Private Schools
  • Future international schools and new campuses already under development
  • The market outlook for China

For more about the services provided by ISC Research see:


Anne Keeling, Communications Director, ISC Research




Feature Image: Nile – Pixabay – Peony (Symbolises riches, prosperity and honour in China.)

Other Images: Tim Gouw & szkoła języków obcych oxford academy aleksandra szarek, olsztyn, poland pictures – Unsplash