Research shows international schools hard hit by oil price crash

Published:  21 Sep at 6 PM
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Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern international schools are facing an enrolment crisis due to the drastic fall in oil prices.

Redundancies as well as shortened contracts in expat professional hubs are expected to have an unprecedented effect on enrolment in international schools. The Middle East is predicted to be worst hit, as contracts are shortened, redundancies kick in and expat professionals give notice and apply for more secure jobs elsewhere.

Malaysia and Singapore are likely to be in the same position, with educational institutes focusing on expatriate children rather than a broader base including local students expected to be worst off. At the present time, according to ISC Research director Richard Gaskell, many international schools are filling in new vacancies via existing waiting lists, but many are cutting bank on new staff for the new school year as well as stepping up their marketing strategies.

The most expensive schools will be the worst affected as the amount offered as education packages declines, leaving expat parents searching for cheaper alternatives. A number of companies whose expat packages included tuition fees are expected to begin cutting back as the effect of the oil price slump continues. It’s not just low oil prices which are scaring companies in the sector, as last year’s volume of discovered oil was the lowest for over 60 years.

With more than 350,000 layoffs in the industry since the downturn began, it’s no surprise that expat families are cutting back on expensive education for their children. The beneficiaries of the turnaround are likely to be mid-priced international schools with a reputation for good educational standards, and many such schools are experiencing rising demand from parents working in the IT sector.

The international school marketplace is hoping expansion in other fields such as finance, the biotech industry, travel and tourism and the leisure sector will result in a pick-up in demand for places at schools with a good reputation. Meanwhile, schools are holding their nerve and planning ahead for the new school year.
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