The Changing World of International School Admission

Deepening enrollment concerns. An applicant pool in flux. Swiftly shifting business practices. High-impact local policies and global politics. Changing professional expectations. The 2019 International School Admission Industry Report explores these challenges and offers strategies to thrive in an increasingly complex admission environment.

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Competition dominates the landscape.

As in the previous survey, this year’s respondents report that competition from other international schools is their number one challenge (39%). Download the report to learn about what else drives competition!


Many schools aren’t meeting enrollment goals.

Less than two-thirds (60%) of international schools met their enrollment goals, and 35% were still enrolling students after the start of the current school year.


Schools must pay more attention to attrition.

Although more than half of schools report at least some increase in voluntary student attrition, 86% have no formal committee focused on retention.


The applicant pool is changing dramatically.

Three quarters of respondents indicate they’ve seen changes in the applicant pool in the last five years. Get your copy of the report to learn the specifics!


Word of mouth is critical.

The recruitment tool regarded most effective is current family referral (95%) and previous family referral (93%).


Admission professionals desire learning opportunities.

Almost all respondents (92%) are interested in professional training/development. The 2019 International School Admission Industry Report dives into what this all means.

In the 2016 International School Admission Industry Report, we published the results of our inaugural global survey of international school admission operations.

In partnership with ISC Research, we are pleased to present the second iteration of this report, which delves even more deeply into industry trends.

International school admission leaders have always been crucial in securing the sustainability of their tuition-driven schools. Today, their work happens in the context of great change in the education market, the economy, the political environment, and business practice. Their work also happens in the context of great growth; to meet growing worldwide demand, the number of international schools has grown nearly five-fold in the last two decades, according to ISC Research.

This fast-changing and increasingly complex enrollment picture compels international school admission leaders to take their work to the next level. While 20 years ago the admission office was the “hospitality hub” of the school, today it must also be a research hub, a data hub, and a marketing hub. And just as admission professionals must elevate their work, so too should school leaders acknowledge this increased complexity and commit to supporting admission leaders in building the requisite skills.

The 2019 International School Admission Industry Report illuminates many of the challenges and opportunities facing the international school admission industry. We hope it informs discussion and collaboration among schools. At The Enrollment Management Association, we look forward to deepening our partnership with international schools by providing more research, tools, training, and networking opportunities. 

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“Increased competition, global market changes, and a changing student demographic, all highlighted in this report illustrate the need for modern enrollment managers to be trained and treated as senior level administrators. The continued success of schools depends on strong enrollment professionals.”

Nicholas Kent

Associate Head of School, Western Reserve Academy


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