Abroad Education

Abroad Education

As foreign boards gain ground, UK’s CIE set to overtake ISC

PUBLISH DATE 9th July 2018

Indian students now aspire to a world-class education, as borne out by the remarkable growth of international boards in the country. In the last decade, especially the last five years, many more schools have been offering qualifications with global currency, like the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CIE).


With 10% year-on-year growth between 2014 and 2016, and another 6.1% in 2017, the UK-based CIE’s strength in India is now at about 67,000, barely 6,000 students short of the number for the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ISC). Meanwhile, Switzerland’s IB programme has also increased its presence from 92 schools in 2013 to 146 schools now.

Apart from offering international practices and academic standards, these curricula have also adjusted to the Indian academic calendar.

International curricula comes with hefty price tag

The Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), which has witnessed rapid growth in India, offers the option of a March examination exclusively for Indian students. These boards also offer a range of Indian subjects such as Sanskrit and Hindi.

With over 22 lakh students across 160 countries, CIE is one of the most popular international school curricula on offer. It now adds roughly 30 to 40 schools in India every year; from 340 schools in 2012-13, it has expanded to 420 schools in 2017.

But these international curricula come with a hefty price tag. Ruchira Ghosh, regional director for South Asia, CIE, said: “The cost is comparatively higher because of the investment it takes to create such a curriculum. It is really about value for money,” she said.

Similarly, the IB programme has grown almost tenfold in the last decade. In 2003, a mere 11 schools offered the IB programme. By 2013, this number had gone up to 107. This growth story also belies the general perception that that CIE or IB students go abroad for higher studies. The majority of these students, in fact, stay on in India for their undergraduate degree and do well.

“While top universities around the world accept the Cambridge qualification, our students are also going to the best of Indian universities. In fact, most of them study in India,” said Ghosh.

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