three years of decline in number of new international schools

context: International schools in the PRC fall into two types: those catering to ex-pat children, and those offering international curricula like the IB (International Baccalaureate) to domestic students. A decline in the number of students seeking bachelor's degrees overseas in 2021 and 2022 has impacted enrolment. Furthermore, the return home of international staff and the lack of new expat arrivals, has impacted both student enrolment and teacher recruitment. Consequently, although new schools continue to be set up, the rate of growth is markedly lower than the peak of 87 new schools in 2018.

As of July 2023, some 28 new international schools have launched in the PRC, and 13 more plan to open in September 2023, with 15 more in the planning stage. The new schools are mainly located in seven provinces and municipalities—Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hubei, Sichuan, Jiangsu and Hainan. Guangdong has been the leading province for five consecutive years, closely followed by Shanghai.

The new schools can be typified as belonging to the following categories

  • equally comprising schools for ex-pat children and private international schools, each at 38.5 percent
  • new measures eased restrictions on founding schools, with cities like Beijing allowing PRC entities to open schools for ex-pat children
  • private international schools continue to be a vital part of international education

In educational offerings

  • the K-12 integrated schooling model is the most popular, accounting for 16.2 percent
  • 11 out of the 13 international schools expected to commence in 2023 cover high school education, nine cover basic education and six cover kindergarten
  • 14 out of the 15 international schools during the planning phase will offer high school education

The IB curriculum has become mainstream, along with the American AP and British A-level courses, though some schools offer the Hong Kong DSE curriculum for specific groups.

Although the number of new international schools has declined for three consecutive years, due to market competition and government policy, new international schools are mostly being set up by investment companies, governments and domestic and international education groups. The latter comprise the majority of 61.5 percent.

Two schools (Chengdu Yinghua School and Chengdu Montpellier International School) have adopted the unusual model of international cooperation between PRC and foreign entities.