International School Associations: What They Are & How They Can Aid Your Recruitment Efforts

International school associations can provide great market insights to help you build your recruitment strategy. Here's our guide to the major organisations out there, and the resources they can provide for your team.

There are two fundamental challenges that many universities’ international admissions teams will face as they attempt to design and refine their international recruitment & enrolment strategies, both in 2022 and the years to come. 

The first problem is the speed at which the recruitment market is changing. 

As we’ve explored on a number of occasions this year, the international schools market is growing exponentially year on year, meaning that there are new sources of international undergraduate talent emerging all the time. 

The second, related problem is one of complexity. 

It’s almost a truism to say that a more globalised market will, by its very nature, become more complex over time. And if there are more students matriculating from an ever-growing number of international schools, it will be harder to keep track of all those prospective undergraduates! 

In the past few weeks, we’ve focused on how you can refine your existing territory plans and recruitment strategies to ensure you’re making the most out of your international school visits & related events. 

But a strategy is nothing without good market intelligence. And, in a world where the market is growing in size and complexity, where are you supposed to start? 

That’s why, in this article, we’re focusing on international school associations and networks. We’ll give you a run down of some of the major international school groups and associations out there, and hopefully share some insights that will aid your recruitment and enrolment efforts in 2022! 

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Global Associations & Networks

If you’re a seasoned international recruitment or admissions professional, we’re going to bet you have at least a passing familiarity with these global international school associations. But for anyone reading this who is new to the international recruitment space, here’s a quick overview:

The Council of British International Schools (COBIS)

The Council of British International Schools (COBIS) is, according to stats on their own website, a membership association that encompasses more than 450 schools worldwide. COBIS schools can be found in 80 countries around the world. 

As their name suggests, they invite applications for membership from British international schools. So if you’re looking to get a better understanding of international schools with a British curriculum and/or orientation, then COBIS is a useful place to start. 

Useful resources

If you’re looking to learn more about British schools in a given market or region, then the COBIS website has an easy-to-use search function, allowing you to easily see how COBIS members are distributed worldwide. 

We’d also always recommend keeping an eye on the COBIS knowledge hub and blog, as you can learn more about how COVID-19 is continuing to shape and affect British schools, and just get more into the day-to-day issues facing teachers, counsellors and international school students.

Council of International Schools (CIS)

CIS is an organisation that “works collaboratively to shape international education through professional services to schools, higher education institutions, and individuals”. 

In short, CIS is an association that offers partnership opportunities, networking, resources and accreditations for both international schools and higher education institutions. 

Much like us here at BridgeU, CIS prides itself on creating more robust partnerships between international schools and universities, so as to further international education opportunity worldwide! 

Useful resources

The CIS membership directory lets you research international schools using a range of criteria, including country, curriculum, state/province and city. 

The CIS website also contains a wealth of resources to aid your international student enrolment efforts, including events, networking opportunities, dedicated Facebook groups, as well as regional data and insights.

International Schools Association (ISA)

Originally founded in Switzerland in 1951, the International Schools Association now works to encourage the creation of international schools and to foster cooperation between international/internationally-minded secondary schools. 

Useful resources

Explore the ISA’s site and you’ll find more in-depth information about their community of schools on their Members page. 

If you’d like to know more about the work that the ISA does, we’d also recommend reading back copies of their newsletter.

The International Baccalaureate

It can often be easy to forget that, as well as being a curriculum, the International Baccalaureate is also a community of schools. 

If you’re looking to learn more about the IB curriculum, how it's taught and delivered, and the common questions and concerns that potential IB student applicants have about the university admissions process, the IB’s website has plenty of useful resources to help guide your own recruitment strategy.

Useful resources

The IB has a useful catalogue of its schools worldwide, with search criteria that allow you to find schools by country, language of instruction and school type (i.e. state/private schools). 

We’d also recommend reading the range of IB’s blogs if you’d like to know more about their vibrant school and student community.

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Local/Regional Associations

As well as the global associations that we’ve outlined above, there are a number of notable international school associations and networks within specific localities and markets around the world.

British Schools in the Middle East (BSME)

If you’re looking to strengthen your institution’s connections with British international schools across the Middle East, then obviously we’d suggest you look no further than this association. 

Their school membership currently stands at 144, totalling 44,000 international school students. 

Useful resources

Use the website’s ‘Find A School’ section to learn more about the individual schools within the wider BSME network

If you’d like to learn more about the key issues and challenges faced by students, counsellors, parents and teachers in the wider Middle East, then we’d recommend registering for BSME’s excellent programme of webinars

Some of the upcoming topics for Jan 2022 include ‘Building an Integrated Parent Communication Strategy’ - we’d argue this is useful viewing for any admissions teams who want to understand more about how parents can guide international students’ decision making.

American International Schools in the Americas (AMISA)

A leading association of international school across North, Central and South America, many of AMISA’s resources and opportunities are members only. 

However, there are still useful resources and blog post on the AMISA website for anyone interested in learning more about the international schools market in this corner of the world. 

Useful resources

As with the other associations and networks that we’ve covered so far, the AMISA website has an easy-to-use overview of member schools

If you or your admissions team are interested in learning more about current events and talking points across the Americas, we’d recommend staying up to date with the AMISA blog.

Association of American Schools of Central America (AASCA)

For an even more localised picture of the Central American international school sector, AASCA is your go-to resource. 

It’s notable that AASCA was designed to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing between Central American school which specifically offer the US curriculum. We’d therefore not recommend this association to anyone who is looking to connect with IB or British curriculum schools!

Useful resources

Head over to the AASCA ‘Directory of Schools’ page and you can access a map view of Central America, from where you can explore all of the international schools that make up the AASCA family. Explore the directory and easily find relevant contacts at any target school of your choice. 

If you want to further segment your search by school type, AASCA also breaks up their membership into large schools and small schools. 

You can also get an easy overview of school enrollment figures and class sizes to help you strategise your outreach more effectively.

Association of Central European IB Schools (ACES)

This association might just win the award for ‘Easiest To Remember Acronym’ (who can forget an abbreviation like ACES). 

As you may have guessed from the name, this association covers international schools in Central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Useful resources

On the ACES ‘Member School’ page you can easily click on a relevant country and easily see an overview of the international schools in that country. 

We’d also recommend any admissions rep who has responsibility for Central Europe to stay up to date with the ‘News’ section, where you’ll see announcements about any relevant university fairs.

Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA)

Unlike ACES, CEESA encompasses a slightly wider community of schools. Not only does it cover Eastern Europe as well as Central Europe, but it also encompasses a broader range of curricula. 

CEESA’s directory also encompasses another subset of schools from across this region - specifically QSI schools. QSI stands for Quality Schools International, and refers to a group of non-profit international schools that were originally founded in the 1970s.

Useful resources

CEESA has a fairly comprehensive school directory

You can also stay up to date on local issues and live events by checking out the CEESA news section. They also have a really handy school holidays calendar, ensuring that you’re not conducting recruitment visits when schools are closed for the holidays.

Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA)

AISA’s network covers the entire continent of Africa, making it the biggest single local network in this list. According to their own website, AISA has been supporting the growth of international schools across Africa for the past five decades. 

Their schools network encompasses a range of curricula, including the IB and US curriculum

Useful resources

You can click on an interactive map of Africa and instantly get an overview of AISA member schools in any African country. 

It’s worth noting that many of the other resources on the AISA website are aimed at teachers and counsellors. However, we’d still recommend having a brief look at some of the resources on offer, if only because they can give you an idea of the day-to-day challenges faced by schools in this part of the world.

The Federation of British International Schools in Asia (FOBISIA)

FOBISIA was founded in 1988 in Jakarta, to offer a forum for international schools teaching a British curriculum to share information and best practice. 

Again, this association might be useful for you if you are looking for a very specific type of school (i.e. international schools with a British curriculum or orientation). There are currently 87 member schools across 19 countries.

Useful resources

As with the previous associations we’ve covered, there’s a handy map on the FOBISIA website to help you navigate the full directory of FOBISIA schools. 

The website also has a CPD section where you can watch webinars related to current trends and best practices within the Asian international school community.

East Asia Regional Council of Schools

EARCOS encompasses over 200 member schools across East Asia. Founded 53 years ago, EARCOS now represents 168,000 international school students.

Useful resources

As ever, it’s easy to get a quick overview of the schools that comprise the EARCOS family with their simple A-Z list of member schools. 

And, if you and your admissions team are not already familiar with it, we’d recommend marking out some time in your diary to attend the Institute of International Admissions & Guidance, a conference that EARCOS runs in partnership with CIS (see above) between 15th and 17th September 2022. 

So if you’re reading this and East Asia falls within your territory, make sure you’re not missing out! 

Australian International Schools Association (AUSISA)

A relatively new association, founded in 2012, the Australian International Schools Association is a group of schools across South-East Asia that teach the Australian curriculum.

Useful resources

The AUSISA homepage has a digestible overview of how Australian international schools are distributed across South-East Asia.

IB Schools Australasia

This association covers IB Schools across Australasia. Specifically, this includes Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Useful resources

As ever, you can find a relevant school through the main website. You can also research and learn more about some of the IB coordinator networks across Australasia.

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