Brace yourselves. Winter is coming. - ABQ
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Brace yourselves. Winter is coming.

Date Posted: Saturday 22 January 2022

Yes, I did borrow that quote from “Game of Thrones”. However irrelevant this is for the Omani climate, it is pertinent to the competitive future your children may face.

Let me explain what I mean by this. In 2012, 75,461 children were born in Oman. Since then, this number has grown every year, reaching 115,353 last year. That is an increase of almost 53% in just 6 years. In other words, the 75,461 children born in 2012 and who are now studying in primary, will compete for the same university places in 10 years’ time. From then onwards, the numbers increase every year, until they reach 115,353 in 16 years’ time. Unless the number of places at universities in Oman increase by more than 50%, it will be increasingly more difficult to secure a place.

If your children instead aspire to study abroad, let us look at what is happening there. In 2000, the number of international schools stood at 2,584 according to ISC. Today, that has increased to 9,626 and 5.34 million students, nearly 30% of whom study at schools in the Middle East. Within the next 10 years, the number of international schools are expected to increase to 16,585, with 9.71 million students. A significant part of this growth will be in Asia, including China and South Asia. These students are likely to compete for places at universities with English as the medium of instruction. We are already witnessing some of the consequences of this. The grade boundaries are gradually becoming higher, meaning it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure top grades. November 2018 saw the highest score ever required to get an A* in A level Physics. In IGCSE Biology, the same was the case in the June 2018 exams.

In addition, note the following facts: The number of children in Germany starting their secondary education this year was just above 670,000. That number will increase by 17.75% over the next 10 years. If we look at the UK, the number of births in 2002 was the lowest in decades, after a gradual decline. Those children apply to universities next year. From then onwards, the numbers will gradually increase by a total of 21.5% over the coming 10 years. In the United States, where we find the majority of the world’s top universities, the number of students applying will increase by 7.5% in the next 5 years.

My predictions are therefore that it will become increasingly difficult to secure places at good universities. What are we at ABQ going to do about this? With your, and your children’s, help, we pledge to prepare our students better, making sure their attainment improvements are greater and faster than those of our competitors. This is a journey we have already embarked on, and we hereby invite all parents to come on board as well.

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