The number of UK schools establishing new schools overseas continues to grow. So far, we do not see the popularity of these projects waning. In fact, it's just possible that the impact of Brexit, and the May Government's proposals for changes to the public benefit rules, might even cause more schools to consider the international route. If Brexit does indeed cause the economic rollercoaster that the new Chancellor predicts, and if schools are asked to invest further in demonstrating public benefit, more schools might seek new strategies to bolster revenues.
Some key risks that often cause concern to schools are:
There are of course other risks, and none of them can be eliminated entirely. However, steps can be taken to mitigate every type of risk associated with international projects.
No. It's a big world, and there is still plenty of demand for high quality British-style education. However, don't only consider the most established markets. A large Chinese city that you might not yet have heard of might turn out to be a better bet than, say, Shanghai, where there is already lots of competition.
When considering potential venues for international projects, don't overlook the UK. If you happen to have spare land (or even buildings) in the UK, an international study centre here might be a good option.
My intuition is that very few schools are truly famous internationally. You and I have spent so many years immersed in the sector that it is perhaps hard to contemplate an entire city that has never heard of, say, King's College School, Wimbledon. But were the people of Wuxi (in China) aware of that school before the announcement of the forthcoming establishment of King's College School, Wuxi (and indeed vice versa)? And yet, I have no doubt that King's College School, Wuxi will be enduringly successful.
What seems to matter most is (i) the collective international reputation of British independent schools, coupled with (ii) a particular British school that emphatically embodies that reputation.
Aside from the obvious financial benefits of a successful international project, UK schools have found that their projects can provide valuable opportunities for sporting and cultural links, exchanges of pupils and staff, the development of an international community of alumni and increased international prestige.
These projects can never be entirely risk-free, and international projects are not for everyone. However, increasingly schools are concluding that the potential benefits outweigh the risks, and there are many ways in which those risks can be reduced and managed.