1. What Parents Look for in an International School

What Parents Look for in an International School

Published on 19 Mar 2024
General Article

According to ISC Research (2024), the number of international schools globally has surged nearly 50% over the past decade, accompanied by a 52% increase in student enrolment. This growth can be attributed to various factors, including heightened mobility among students and families, as well as a surging demand for high-quality education. In today’s landscape, parents possess a broader perspective and a nuanced understanding, shaped by their personal experiences. With that in mind, what precisely will parents be looking into when choosing an international school for their child? 

Seven polls were conducted on the Education Destination Malaysia and Private & International School Fair Instagram stories recently. These polls aimed to gauge the primary considerations that influenced parents when choosing an international school for their children.

Here is an overview of the results: 

1. Will you choose your child’s school based on its location?

In the bustling Klang Valley, a hub of diversity and opportunity, stands a staggering number of approximately 100 international schools. The recent poll results showed that 80% of respondents prioritize the proximity of the school to their home. For these families, it might not be just a question of saving time and money, but also a desire to give their child the precious gift of more leisurely afternoons and study sessions in the comfort of home. Despite the whirlwind pace of today’s world, parents remain steadfast in their quest for balance, ensuring their children have ample time to nurture their passion and curiosities. Ultimately, parents wouldn’t want to see their child spending hours on a bus when they could be exploring new hobbies or spending quality time with loved ones.

Despite this overall preference for proximity, a resilient 20% of respondents remain open to the idea of sending their child to schools further away. Thankfully, international schools understand the challenges of commuting and often provide transportation solutions such as school buses or vans. So, whether it is a stone’s throw away or a bit further down the road, parents can rest assured in the knowledge that their child’s educational journey is in good hands.  

2. Are extracurricular activities an important factor when choosing a school?

According to the poll result, 82% of parents consider extracurricular activities a game-changer when selecting a school for their child. It is a testament to the modern emphasis on providing their child with a truly balanced education. Research consistently highlights the benefits of giving children diverse learning opportunities, including scope for exploration, and play. Extracurricular activities play a vital role in providing such experiences. These activities are not just about fun; they are nurturing a child’s personal growth and development every step of the way. Your child may eventually become interested in one of these activities and decide to pursue it professionally. And here is an interesting detail: parents with a college degree are more inclined to enrol their child in extracurricular activities, compared to parents with a high school diploma. After all, education isn’t just about what happens inside four walls, it is about the adventures, discoveries, and friendships that shape your child’s journey through life.

Fortunately, international schools prioritise the inclusion of extracurricular activities to ensure students receive a comprehensive educational experience. These schools boast first-class facilities that facilitate a wide range of extracurricular pursuits, including sports and performing arts. Students have access to various indoor and outdoor clubs, providing ample opportunities for exploration and skill developments. 

3. Are school facilities an important factor?

The poll reveals that the majority of parents prioritize school facilities when making a decision about the choice of school for their child. It is a natural inclination for parents to want their child to attend schools that are superior to their own educational experiences. Indeed, the quality of school facilities is not just about aesthetics; it is deeply intertwined with the health, behaviour, engagement, and overall growth of students. From physical infrastructure to emotional well-being, the facilities provided by a school can significantly impact both students and teachers. Research has even drawn a direct correlation between poor school facilities and a decline in academic performance among secondary school students and teachers.

In today’s technology driven world, schools at the forefront of innovation understand the importance of investing in state-of-the-art-facilities. Smart classrooms, equipped with cutting-edge technology, are becoming the norm, necessitating significant investments from forward-thinking educational institutions. 

4. What range of tuition fees will you consider to be affordable?


Tuition fees are undeniably a significant consideration when choosing an international school for your child. It is not just about being able to afford the fees at present; parents must also ensure they can continue to meet these expenses until their child completes his education, potentially through high school. However, what many parents overlook is that tuition fees only make up a portion (30% to 50%) of the overall school expenses. The remaining 50% to 70% encompasses various other costs such as transportation fees, exam fees that can add up quickly.

Based on the poll results, the majority of parents lean towards schools with annual tuition fess below RM20,000, with only small fraction (10%) willing to consider schools with fees exceeding RM40,000. Fortunately, the landscape of international schools today offers a diverse range of fee structures, making it feasible for parents to find a school that aligns with their financial means. It is essential for parents to conduct a thorough research in order to make informed decisions that not only meet their budgetary constraints but also provide the best educational opportunities for their child. 

5. Do you prefer to send your child to a school with multicultural environment?

Based on the poll results, 92% of the respondents believe it is important for their child to be experience a multicultural environment. In international schools, children from diverse backgrounds mingle with classmates and teachers from around the globe. This exposure offers them firsthand insights into various cultures, fostering a deeper understanding of our world’s diversity. Learning alongside peers from different cultures enhances a child’s global awareness and broadens his perspective. This early exposure to multiculturalism not only enriches the education of the students but also eases their transition to universities abroad.

Malaysian students are increasingly setting their sights on pursuing tertiary education abroad. Based on UNESCO data as of March 2023, Malaysia boasts a remarkable 59,144 students studying overseas. In response to this trend, parents are gravitating towards international schools with a multicultural environment as the ideal choice to prepare them for the global stage.

6. Are teachers credentials an important factor when choosing a school for your child? 


The findings underscore the significance of teachers’ qualification, with a resounding 90% of the respondents emphasizing its crucial role in school selection. Undoubtedly, the quality of a school hinges largely on the expertise and dedication of its teaching staff. Parents are advised to inquire about the teaching staff during the school visits and to assess their levels of experience and qualification. Some schools even provide detailed information about their teachers’ credentials on their websites. Additionally, analysing school attrition rates can provide valuable insights. Expert suggest that a four-year timeframe serves as a reliable gauge of school retention, indicating the overall satisfaction levels among teachers. 

If you are looking for international schools in Malaysia, use the powerful School Finder and the School Comparison tool today! 

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