FOR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD IT, THE REAL McCOY IS STILL THE PREFERRED CHOICE ALTHOUGH FRANCHISED VERSIONS OF RENOWNED UK SCHOOLS HAVE OPENED IN ASIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
BY Zoe Phoon
Good schools are a key driver of the housing market and their presence often helps to drive property prices.
Education is an increasingly critical driver of demand in prime residential markets, according to global property consultancy Knight Frank’s Education Report 2017.
The report, which examines the housing market around key schools in the UK, said wealthy parents from a growing number of countries are choosing to educate their children overseas.
At the report’s launch recently, Knight Frank’s global head of research Liam Bailey said the world’s wealthy want their children to be global citizens with school careers often spread across multiple locations while they gain insight into different cultures and languages.
Dominic Heaton-Watson of Knight Frank Malaysia’s International Residential noted Asian demand for international education has continued to rise.
Traditionally popular cities of London and Melbourne retaining their strong appeal to Malaysian families and property investment has continued this trend.
“Despite any perceived Brexit uncertainty, the world class education on offer in the UK will continue to lend a degree of resilience to the market while Malaysians’ firm affinity with Melbourne is as strong as ever,” he added.
The property consultancy also highlighted these key findings:
 The Knight Frank Attitudes Survey 2017 shows that on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = very important), ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in Asia cited 8 (see infographics) being the level of importance of education when choosing somewhere to buy.
 Prime property prices around key London schools have risen significantly over the last five years, showing this trend – London: St Paul’s Girls’ School (+45%), Westminster School (+36%); Home Counties: Eton College (+45%), Epsom College (+42%).
 Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2017 reveals 38% of UHNWIs in Asia are more likely to look abroad for a good school.
Many see UK’s private boarding schools are still the gold standard although the US, Switzerland, Australia and other countries all attract pupils from overseas.
 Currency, quality of life and access to the best universities are key in boosting demand for a British education.
 Ambitious families in Singapore have traditionally sent their children to schools in the US, not necessarily because they think these are better but because of the cost.
Now they are saying the fall in the British pound’s value is making the UK look much better value.
 Although a number of franchised versions of well known UK schools have opened in Asia and the Middle East, the genuine article is still the preferred choice for those who can afford it.
In China, there’s a feeling that “if you’re going to spend money on Western luxuries, it’s better to buy them in the West”.
Middle Eastern families also value the fact that British schools provide access to the best universities in both the UK and the US.
Also seen is a sharp rise in the urgency of enquiries from Turkish families, some looking at boarding schools and others at London day schools with the whole family coming over.
Essentially, parents are keen to ensure a diverse mix: In a world where business is becoming increasingly global, having your children make friends with people from lots of different nationalities is very attractive.
 Some families that might previously have been planning to send their children to schools in the US are looking at the UK, which now offers better value after the recent fall in the value of the pound.
 Global demand in UK schools has risen over the past 10 years. The number of students from Asia joining UK public schools between school years 2005/2006 and 2015/2016 rose by 41%. There was 191% rise in the number of students from mainland China.
Meanwhile, according to two Knight Frank agents, against the background of a changing political and regulatory climate, world class schools will ensure that property buyers will continue to look in the UK and Switzerland markets.
A key attraction of Switzerland schools is the international mix of students. This is despite the country’s many financial regulations and strong Swiss franc.
On what effect has Brexit had, they said that basically, the quality of UK schools remains a huge draw. Brexit is irrelevant when it comes to educating their children.
Personal safety is also important. Parents want their children to travel safely on the bus to school.
On how open are buyers looking outside central London, they said buyers like the beautiful landscapes and value for money outside central London.
Moreover, schools are less oversubscribed than those in central London.