ISC Census 2011: Overseas pupils rise shows global appeal of UK independent schools

Posted on: 28 Apr 2011

The 2011 ISC Annual Census has revealed a significant rise in overseas pupils, highlighting the continuing global appeal of UK independent schools.

An increase was also seen in boarding pupil numbers, up 1.7% among those schools completing the Census in the last two years, with 68,102 boarding pupils now in ISC schools.

The increases come in spite of the most challenging economic climate for decades.

Pupil numbers fell by just 0.2%, from 506,154 to 505,368, among the 1,228 schools which completed the Census in both 2010 and 2011.

Read the ISC Annual Census 2011

Other findings include:

  • A 7.5% increase in the number of ISC pupils receiving means-tested bursaries; 33.2% of ISC pupils currently receive help with their fees, and ISC schools provide more than £550 million in assistance annually
  • An average fee rise of 4.5%, the second lowest since 1994 and below the education component of CPI inflation at 5.3%
  • Almost nine in ten ISC schools are involved in partnerships with state schools or the wider community 36,949 post-18 school leavers went on to Higher Education from ISC schools, the highest ever number.

Responding to the Census findings, ISC Chief Executive David Lyscom said:

"ISC independent schools are showing remarkable resilience against a difficult economic background, reflecting the high quality of education that our schools offer to parents, and the value for money that this represents.

"International comparisons continue to indicate that UK independent schools offer some of the best educational outcomes available, and we are pleased that, despite the widening of choices available, parents continue to trust our schools with their children’s education in such large numbers. Education is after all the best investment that parents can make in their children’s future.

"Especially pleasing is the rise in overseas pupil numbers, which shows the ability of our schools to attract high quality applicants from overseas in the face of fierce competition from other countries. This underlines the importance of the UK having a proportionate visa regime which is capable of distinguishing between independent schools and their pupils and other student migrants. So we are pleased that the UK Border Agency has listened to ISC's message and has granted all independent schools automatic Highly Trusted Sponsor status.

"On the findings for means-tested bursaries, the fact that over £250 million is now being paid by our schools to children who need financial support must make the government think carefully about its approach to university admissions. It would be very wrong to discriminate against these pupils when they apply to university just because they went to a particular type of school. Our schools help promote social mobility; our statistics show how socially diverse they may be."


Notes to editors

ISC Mission Statement

The Independent Schools Council (ISC): working with its members to promote and preserve the quality, diversity and excellence of UK independent education both at home and abroad.

Additional information

ISC represents the eight leading independent schools associations in the UK, collectively educating more than 500,000 children in more than 1,200 schools in the UK and select British schools overseas. In total, there are around 2,600 independent schools in the UK.

Read the ISC Annual Census 2011