International study centres: kick-starting UK education – by Caroline Nixon, Chairman of BAISIS

09 Jul 2015

Caroline Nixon

Caroline Nixon

BAISIS is the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students and is a group of 50 British independent boarding schools and colleges.  It exists as an organisation to share best practice in academic and pastoral provision for international students and provides networking opportunities and training for teachers, boarding staff and managers dealing with these children.

BAISIS was formed in 1997 by Sherborne School, Taunton School, Bedford School and Rossall School, which had all at that time opened international study centres to prepare international students better for the challenges of British education.  But in recent years, BAISIS has opened its doors to schools that have all sorts of different types of pre-sessional courses or support mechanisms in place for newly arrived international students.  As a result of this more inclusive membership, the name was changed recently to BAISIS, whereas it was previously known as BAISC (British Association of International Schools and Colleges).  The common link, however, between BAISIS members is a commitment to a high quality of provision and care for the academic and pastoral support of students, without which membership will not be granted.

39% of boarders in UK boarding schools are international students. This percentage has increased rapidly over the last few years (36% in 2012 and 31% in 2008) and looks set to carry on increasing.  So sharing best practice is essential and this is the main aim of BAISIS, whose members meet termly, share focussed training sessions and keep in email contact in order to ask each other for advice on specific issues that may arise.  This creates a meaningful network of professionals in the field of international education in the UK as well as a means of mutual support and development.  Not only do teachers and house staff share best practice on academic and pastoral issues, but registrars and heads share agent knowledge to help with marketing and recruitment, often passing on students where they are better suited to other member schools.

BAISIS also has an annual two day conference which will be held next year in Birmingham on 3rd and 4th March 2016.  The conference this year looked at both ends of the age spectrum, with sessions on supporting the youngest prep school pupils as well as helping 6th formers to gain good university places.  There were also speakers on topics as varied as social marketing, UKVI issues and mindfulness in schools.

Looking ahead, BAISIS has 4 new members in the process of joining which will take the organisation to a membership of 54.  For many schools which are relatively new in the international market, the mentoring and development support that BAISIS schools can give new members will hopefully result in better provision for students.  AS BAISIS continues to grow, we will also be better placed to lobby on issues such as the visa system which affect us all.

More information can be found at

Caroline Nixon

Chairman, BAISIS.


Caroline Nixon was Principal of Taunton School International from 2003 – 2014 and is now a self-employed consultant specialising in marketing, recruitment and the setting up of new international schools.  She has been Chairman of BAISIS since 2009 and has delivered talks and seminars on international education, including advising international students on how to choose a suitable school, at exhibitions and conferences all over the world.