Foreign universities have been beating a track to India for some years. Now, it is the turn of K12 schools to make a beeline here. Singapore’s Global Schools Foundation, Harrow School from the US and Dibber International Preschools from Northern Europe are among those betting big on the rising demand for high-quality education in India and the big market potential. The Indian education sector is anticipated to reach $225 billion by FY25. 

Dibber currently has six schools across India — four in Bengaluru, one each in Pune and Hyderabad. The Nordic chain of schools plans to open 25 schools by March 2024 in cities including Hyderabad, Pune, Gurugram, Kochi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai. Globally, Dibber manages over 600 early schools in 10 countries. 

Ritesh Handa, CEO, Dibber International Preschools, told businessline, “We are looking to invest Rs. 100 crore over the course of three years with around Rs. 50 to 60 crore over the next 12 to 24 months.”

In December last year, Singapore’s Global Schools Foundation announced an investment of around $550 million in India’s school education sector by 2026. It currently, runs eight campuses in the country and plans to increase the number of campuses.

The not-for-profit foundation, with 20 years of experience in K-12 education, operates nine international school brands with 35 campuses in nine countries across Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East.

Another international school from the United States called Harrow School will be launching its first school in Bengaluru in August. The fee structure for the 6th to 10th standard will be Rs 8.62 lakh for each term and a total of Rs 17.25 lakh for a year, according to reports.

Aspirational audience

The movement of these players showcases the opportunities that the sector offers for foreign investors. Experts suggest that India has the world’s largest population of people between 5 and 24 years old—500 million people—and this provides a great growth opportunity for the education sector.

Amit Kapoor, Honorary Chairman, Institute for Competitiveness, noted that these schools are targeting markets that offer deep pockets. “Today, there are people who want to give their kids a global aspirational education, and that is where these schools will provide for the same. It is a big opportunity, if you look at it, on average, around 3 million children take birth in the country annually.”

The country has over 250 million school-going students, according to an India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) report. Moreover, factors such as the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) at senior secondary schools was 47:1, as against 26:1 in the overall school system, according to UNESCO’s State of the Education Report for India 2021, which allows enough room for other players to enter.