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Independents draw in more international boarders

Scottish independent boarding schools are attracting growing numbers of international students, according to figures from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools.

The number of international boarders reached 901 in 2012 - a 3.8 per cent rise on the previous year - with nearly half coming from just three countries: Germany, China and Russia. A significant proportion of the students - 222 of the 901 - came from Germany.

But overall numbers of international students fell as day-pupil numbers continued to decline - this year by 16.2 per cent to a total of 388. Their number has been in decline since 2008, when the figure was more than twice the current level.

The schools council said the reasons for this were unclear, but suggested that the reduction might be explained by the fact that some schools do not hold information on the nationality of their day pupils.

Overall numbers, including international and domestic students, remained largely static at 31,358 in 2012, compared with 31,425 in 2011.

John Edward, director of the SCIS, which represents 75 independent, fee- paying schools in Scotland, said the rise in the number of international boarding students was attributable to the quality of independent schools in Scotland, as well as the quality and beauty of their surroundings.

More and more work was being done by his organisation and the sector to raise the profile of independent schools outside Scotland, he said.

Speaking at the SCIS annual meeting, Mr Edward said: "Tests and challenges for the independent sector remain - tests which they continue to pass.

"Meanwhile, everyone is asking questions about Scotland's future. One thing is certain - the independent sector has a long and successful future in Scotland as an integral part of school- age education."

He said "world-class quality and care in a world- beating setting should never be undervalued" and the sector would "not fight shy of making the case".

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk.

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