KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 ― Malaysia leads southeast Asia in terms of students enrolled in international schools with English as its teaching language, according to a study published yesterday.
In the study by ISC Research, a firm that analyses the international school market, Malaysian students outnumbered those from Thailand or Singapore, despite only having the third most number of such schools in the region.
“Malaysia has 71,589 students enrolled in various international schools in the country,” it said in a statement, referring to data up until the first quarter of 2017.
“This is the highest in the region, followed by Thailand with 64,928 students and Singapore with 63,789.”
Malaysia has 170 English-medium international schools, the report said, below Indonesia (190) and Thailand (181).
This comes as student enrolment in international schools rising by 33.9 per cent in the last four years, ISC said.
“We see a lot of growth potential in this part of the world for private and international schools mainly as a result of the continued growth of the economies in East and Southeast Asia,” said Rhona Greenhill, the co-founder of the International Private Schools Education Forum that will take place in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
In December last year, a global poll showed that international school fees in Malaysia are the eighth most expensive in the world for expatriates, just behind Singapore but ahead of Austria and even Australia.
A survey of 707 international schools in 98 countries by ExpatFinder.com, a website offering information on living abroad, found that the median tuition for a sixth-grade — the equivalent of a Primary Six — student here is US$21,600 (RM96,433.20) a year, just US$100 cheaper than in Singapore, which ranked seventh.
In 2014, Malay Mail Online reported that a growing number of middle-class parents are forking out amounts up to RM100,000 annually to send their children to international schools.
International schools have mushroomed in Malaysia ever since the government dismantled its strict enrolment policy and allowed regular Malaysians into institutions that once catered only to the children of expatriate community and diplomatic circles.