In spite of being independent, such schools are still affected by wider social trends. This extends to the boarders and their parents. However, with independence comes the freedom of flexibility and address the needs of individuals.
As a result, despite financial uncertainty, political flux and sustained press attention independent boarding schools are ranked among the world’s best with increased demand for places.
Over time, independent boarding schools have evolved to embrace a broader age range and diversity.
We find increasing internationalization on students as well as the universities they progress to. UK independent schools are ranked according to the OECD (with South Korea and New Zealand as the best academic schools in the world and educating students to be internationally successful.
About 70% of pupils in UK independent schools are of white British origin with the remaining of minority ethnic origin. A similar ratio applies to both boarding and non-boarding schools.
Over the last few years, the ration of pupils of minority ethnic background seems to be increasing.
Internationally, British independent schools are perceived as of the highest quality. This is supported by the OECD international ranking.
Accounting for about 5% of the pupil body in UK independent, international students come predominantly from China and Hong Kong - approximately 40%, while Europe represents around 35%.
There has been a recent increase in students from Russia China and Nigeria – increasing by around 30%, 5% and 15% respectively. Numbers of both Hong Kong and German students have fallen by around 5%.
In gender terms, overseas pupil numbers are broadly balanced.
In 2009, the UK Boarder agency began to require non EU pupils to obtain a Tier 4 visa. Since 2011, additional regulations require schools to have Highly Trusted Status (HTS) for issuing Tier 4 visas. The vast majority of independent schools now have HTS.
Over 30% of UK independent pupils are in receipt of assistance for fees. This figure has recently risen slightly.
Nearly 90% of this help is from the schools. On average schools give about double the amount of assistance via bursaries compared to scholarships. Means-tested bursaries are worth nearly £8000 per pupil per annum. These are granted to nearly 10% of pupils at UK Independent schools.
Over 40% of pupils receiving means-tested bursaries have over 50% of fees paid for. About 2% of pupils get assistance. While the number of means-tested bursaries has risen in recent years -by about 20%, help via scholarships remains more constant.