Still too few expats today to set up international school in Limburg
Over the past six months, POM Limburg has commissioned a study on the prospect of an international school in Limburg. Research firm Decisio mapped the number of potential students, based in part on a market survey of expats, or international employees, from the region. In addition to developing a demographic, economic and spatial regional profile, the firm also conducted a competitive and financial analysis. The conclusion: there is currently insufficient market potential in Limburg to set up an international school and make it profitable for the next ten years. With the expansion of campuses, however, the future may look completely different.
The ideal school
The survey revealed criteria that internationals associate with an ideal international school. For example, an easy commute between the school and the home is an important requirement, as many expats do not usually have their own cars straight away. As such, a location on the Hasselt-Genk central axis would be most favourable. This would render campuses, including Corda Campus, Campus Diepenbeek, Thor Park and Campus Elfde Linie of PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Hogeschool PXL), all eligible. There is also a clear preference in favour of the standardised bilingual international curriculum, so that children can continue their year of study upon departure or arrival in Limburg. Moreover, Decisio’s analysis shows that the total operating cost of an international school can be as much as €6.5 million in the first ten years. This means that when the school starts up, it needs at least 80 students to make it viable, and tuition fees to the tune of €10,000 per year. Over a ten-year term, this would involve at least 640 students. Given the low number of expats in the region, this is not realistic at this point in time.
Just because an international school in Limburg is not feasible at the moment does not mean it could not happen in future. This is why POM Limburg wants to remain fully committed to internationalisation. Projects such as the Einstein Telescope, the Health Campus and the expansion of Corda Campus can be a magnet for foreign companies. Thanks to those new campuses, Limburg is attracting more knowledge-driven companies. In time, this could lead to a growth in the number of international profiles in the region. It is now also important to seek support from other partners. After all, the study clearly shows that – in order to keep tuition fees affordable – there is a need for third-party funding to run the school.