The Top 10 College Choices For International School Students


The University of British Columbia is the number one college choice for students at international schools.

The most popular college choices for students at international schools have been revealed in a new study.

International schools are a fast-expanding sector, with access to higher education across the globe a key driver behind their growth.

In 2012, around 3.38 million children were being taught in 6,768 English-medium international schools, according to international education consultants ISC Research.

By last year, that had risen to 5.02 million students in 9,464 schools, and by 2023 that is forecast to increase to 6.86 million students in 12,590 schools, with a total market value of $66.6 billion.

Now a new study has revealed where these students go to continue their education, and the results demonstrate to what extent the promise of an international education is being fulfilled.

The most popular higher education destinations for international school students are the U.S., U.K. and Canada, according to ISC Research based on a sample of schools.

More than 90% of students enrolled in international schools gained university places, according to the study, with the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates all popular destinations.

This will be good news for parents who choose to send their children to international schools, suggesting that such schools are effective in preparing students for entry into colleges around the world.

The survey also suggests that international school students are academically successful, with an average International Baccalaureate score of 33, compared with 29.8 among all students, and an average AP score of 3.6 compared with 2.89 among all students. The survey found that 31.5% of students gained gained A or A* grades in A-levels, compared with 26.4% among all U.K. students.

Not surprisingly, the most popular colleges among international students were in the most popular destination countries, with five in the U.K., three in Canada and one each in the U.S. and the Netherlands.

These four countries also dominated the top 50, with the U.K. taking 18 spots, the U.S. 14 and Canada and the Netherlands five each.

The top 10 university destinations for international school leavers in 2018 is:

  1. University of British Columbia (Canada)
  2. University of Toronto (Canada)
  3. University College London (U.K.)
  4. King’s College London (U.K.)
  5. New York University (U.S.)

6=  McGill University (Canada)

6=  University of Amsterdam (Netherlands)

6=  University of Warwick (U.K.)

9.   Imperial College London (U.K.)

10. University of Manchester (U.K.)

Source: Higher Education Report: Pathways from K12 English-medium International Schools to University 2018 (ISC Research)

While it is not surprising that colleges in the English-speaking world are popular among students educated at English-medium schools, the fact that these are among the world’s leading universities  will provide further reassurance for parents, particularly local parents opting for international schools hoping to ease their offspring’s path into higher education.

Students cited a university’s location as the biggest factor in their choice, followed by the quality of education and the cost. Visa benefits before or after the degree was ranked fourth.

The most popular degrees were accounting and finance and business and management courses, followed by engineering and economics.

But among the 168 schools providing data on student choices, the number of students opting for philosophy, physics or modern languages was in single figures.