Thailand a bright spot for regional education
Schools look to profit amid parent demands
Thailand has the potential to become a regional hub for education particularly among students from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam because of its comparatively low tuition fees and high-quality international schools, according to education experts.
Toryos Pandejpong, director of Denla British School, said affluent families from countries in the Mekong sub-region and China are now seeking overseas education for their children, with Thailand high on their list.
"Thailand is a friendly place, is centrally located and easily accessible, and has a variety of curricula on offer -- potentially making Thailand a hub for international education," he said.
Mr Toryos said the number of foreign students enrolled in Thailand's international schools has steadily increased in the last few years with the trend likely to continue.
"China, Myanmar and Laos are big markets for Thai institutions because these countries still lack quality international schools.
"Thailand now has more than 170 international schools nationwide, the highest number in Southeast Asia," he said.
Mr Toryos said not only are more foreign students from neighbouring countries set to enrol in Thai international schools, but such schools are now admitting more Thai students because of the country's low birth rate, meaning parents can afford to spend more on the the fewer children they have, including on education.
"Thai parents now only have one or two children, so they can look for the schools which provide the best primary education for their kids.
"And they are willing to spend more money to guarantee a bright future for them," he said.
Mr Toryos said he expects sending children to study in international schools will become commonplace among affluent parents in China and CLMV countries in the near future.
According to the Denla British School's assistant director Temyos Pandejpong, the school has seen almost 200 students sign up for courses even though the school opened just a couple of months ago, adding the school expects to see enrolments rise to 900-1,500 within five years.
"At present, 20% of our students are foreign nationals but we estimate this proportion to go up to 30% within five years, with our school planning to offer boarding facilities by that time," he said.
Meanwhile, Howard Wu, an education specialist and adviser at Bromsgrove International School Thailand, said tuition fees for Thailand's international schools are cheaper than those of Malaysia and Singapore, while the standard of education at a Thai international schools is as high as those of the UK or the US.
Therefore, when compared to sending children to a UK boarding school where fees are 50% more expensive, Thailand's international schools come across as great value for money.
Mr Wu said Bromsgrove last year saw its Mandarin-speaking student intake go up. There are over 10 Chinese students studying at the school and that number is likely to grow.
Earlier, Laureate Thailand CEO Gilles Mahe said a survey conducted by his company found 60% of students in Thailand want to study on international programmes.
However only a fraction, at 3%, are usually accepted to do so.