Countries w/ Expected Teacher Exodus, 2022

An ISR Member Writes:

We have all heard about the potential Chinese teacher exodus due to closed borders, changing laws and many other changes. However, I’m expecting other countries will also have something similar. From my best understanding, the following may happen:

(1) Large teacher exodus from Singapore due to being stuck on a small island for 18 months. Of course – they will have no trouble getting people applying but I’m expecting a large turnover this year.

(2) Large turnovers in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. I’m actually expecting many of these schools to have no trouble getting teachers, but high quality staff with international experience will be in shorter supply.

What do your tea leaf readings tell you to expect next year?

ISR Members Respond:

You might see an exodus of experienced older teachers from the UAE. International schools have been squeezing staff dry in terms of pay, contact time, extra-curriculars, inspections, etc. Even the younger, cheaper teachers are beginning to see it’s not worth the hassle here.

“I know some people are cutting their losses (or at least willing to) and plan on leaving China + SE Asia, entirely. People coming from better schools that I’m in touch with are even talking about taking a ‘year off.’ If you have enough savings and need to get back to family after 2+ full years stuck in a dystopia, why not?

“Expect an exodus from the 3 American schools in India. All have huge drops in enrollment as multinational corporations pull families out of the country, embassies and consulates doing the same.”

In Taiwan staff can return to my school after 2 weeks quarantine plus one week self management, effectively 3 weeks. This puts people off knowing that they will be stuck here for all but summer holidays.

You can already see the exodus from Vietnam in job postings. The government cancels your visa if you leave the country. Ho Chi Minh City is just now coming out of a total, military-enforced lockdown. Most schools are telling staff if they take holiday they won’t get back in. Some have not seen family in two years. The lockdown was brutal.

Note: The preceding is transplanted from the Member Forum where ISR Members will find 36 informative entries on this interesting topic. See Countries with Expected Teacher Exodus 2020. Go to Member Forum

Comments: Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion Topic

35 thoughts on “Countries w/ Expected Teacher Exodus, 2022

  1. From a school in Western Europe I expect there to be a ‘normal’ level of movement this year, particularly within the region and people returning to their home countries. But I think most people are happy to sit tight and wait for things to settle down before making any bigger, more adventurous moves to other regions. My school has plenty of its own problems that aren’t related to COVID but most people need the income and stability and it’s too risky to move at the moment.


  2. I don’t think there will be an exodus from South American schools. Despite the covid madness, and the upsetting number of deaths, the quality of life is very good. No strict rules, sun, beaches, generally happy work environment, no stress. I am in Rio de Janeiro and have no intention to leave any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brunei has become almost unlivable. Strict lockdown, overwhelming paperwork and costs to leave and return and very little hope for change in the future. People are leaving already and honestly I would not want to be a recruiter in this environment.


  4. Singapore appears to be trying to open up again to the world with new rules of vaccinated travel lanes opening but for many the two years of no travel have weighed heavily; it’s a small island!!!! And the likelihood of Bali weekends or interesting travel in the region seems a long way off. Rules rules rules… always changing… it’s been a rough two years here for teachers. But not as bad as some of our friends in the region we know. Package is still good… but is it worth it to be on a small island so far from home? Expect an exodus from Singapore… a lot of good teachers are fed up and homesick. But know what you’re getting into when applying…


  5. I expect that we’ll see quite a shift in the types of staff employed in many international schools now that the quality of expat life has taken such a decline in most parts of the world. What’s the incentive to stay in a country which you effectively can’t leave more than once a year, where you can’t go out without a mask or which has generally used the pandemic as a means to accelerate anti expatriate regulations (I’m thinking China but there are others too)? Unless, of course, you’re in dire need of a job or the financial package is life changing.

    The top international schools will either have to up their game to attract the best teachers and retain quality or hire teachers with lower standards and accept a drop-off. Meanwhile the newer rent-a-name schools will undoubtedly attract younger less experienced staff who are desperate for anything other than the UK/US; they probably won’t be much good but will have all the glitzy facilities and apple suites to bring in their nouveau riche customers, meanwhile the doors of recruitment will quickly start revolving when these staff realise it’s all a fur coat.

    The pandemic has accelerated the shake up with international education and many of its teachers needed.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m one of those that’s taken a year off because of covid. I couldn’t get home for 2 years (the quarantine system) and we all took a 20% pay reduction, with 15% less on our housing benefit. Some staff were made redundant including our principals and we were all feeling burntout with the extra workload and online teaching. Best decision I made- I’m loving not working and feel privileged to be in a position to do this. If you can I’d highly recommend it. I’m currently looking for international school employment for next year. There’s quite a few positions posted at this early stage in the year. China has a huge number but I have little interest – too many issues with visas. I’m hoping by the next academic year there will be some normalcy in schools again.


  7. In Thailand, it’s is mixed depending on the school. My school got us vaccinated and we’ve received our raises and bonuses, but if we had to do quarantine upon return from summer holiday abroad, we had to pay. My partner’s school hasn’t had step raises in two years. Their vaccination scheme was way behind my school, same situation for quarantine, but 3 weeks into the school year they needed to make redundancies due to low enrollment. THREE WEEKS INTO THE SCHOOL YEAR!!! After they’d welcomed their group of new teachers. That’s NA for you.


    1. Wow, you are lucky that you can support your partner still. Your partner needs to write a review and expose Nord Anglia St Andrews about how immoral and unethical they were in this situation considering they hired new teachers even with low enrollment.


  8. Yes, China will see a massive amount of teachers leave. Many schools write their contracts in $USD and with the exchange rate, these teachers have seen their salary get drastically cut over the last year. So why stay here where it is super difficult to go home, your salary is on the decline, not to mention the new tax laws that go into effect in January which will further reduce salaries significantly (very few schools are even talking about that).


    1. Absolutely agree with the previous post. I work at BASIS in China, and am worried about the same things. We get a $4000 travel allowance for our family and I to go home and yet it wouldn’t even cover the cost of one ticket. Other friends at the British school are facing the same thing. Just doesnt make financial sense to stay.


  9. I can verify Vietnam but the fact is that this country has already seen a mass exodus of teachers across the board, not just in international schools. The government began changing their policies on who could get work visas without warning, which forced a lot of people to abruptly leave because suddenly their school could not renew their visa. Some of them had been teaching for years on the same visa but suddenly were considered unqualified due to new requirements. Now on top of that, the government completely botched the quarantine; as one comment said it’s been incredibly long and brutal, not to mention utterly mismanaged. They’ve only just begun to vaccinate large enough numbers of people for things to somewhat return to normal, but many people are just sick of it at this point and want out.


    1. Let’s remember that Vietnam kept us all relatively safe and free to travel in country during much of this pandemic while most other countries were in disarray and many their people were dying. The lockdown has been hard, but the country is slowly opening, and we haven’t had to put up with the nonsense from anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers.

      Thank you Vietnam!
      American in Vung Tau


  10. Our school in Shanghai advised its teachers to stay in China since early 2020 threatening staff with job losses if we left. Amidst the pressure of being stuck here in order to keep my job I was told that to look for another job mid contract, despite having been here three years was, you guessed it, ‘unprofessional’ and that getting a reference would be ‘impossible due to Covid.’ So despite there being such an unprecedented situation it would seem that teacher retention was my school’s only concern despite their bleating on about teacher wellbeing. The fact that the contract states that a 3 month notice was needed before you could leave did not seem to concern the headteacher at all, whose one sided approach to the whole situation and refusal to acknowledge staff’s sacrifices has been a damning indication of this man’s character and lack of empathy.


  11. Hong Kong. Leadership in schools here anticipating a difficult recruitment season. Many people are leaving due to strict Covid quarantine rules (3 weeks quarantine in a hotel at your expense). We’ve been stuck in a gilded cage for 2 years. Another reason is the fast changing political climate. The speed at which things are changing is very unnerving. Hong Kong will still be popular but the Covid and politics might put people off.


  12. Just like everyone has different motivations for wanting to teach internationally, everyone will have different motivations for wanting to find their way out of it. We work at the pleasure of the customer, like it or not. If there are a lot of them, then there are plenty of jobs. If their numbers decrease, then so will the jobs. Based on what I read at ISR, there is a huge variance in the way that schools have dealt with the realities of decreased enrolments due to COVID. We all know that teaching itself in the past year has not been much fun, and add to that health stresses (physical and mental), financial worries, job security, country instability, inability to go home for a rest, and you have a perfect storm of reasons why people, myself included, might want to get out of this. I know I speak from a position of privilege that not everyone has when I say this, but none of us have to work for crappy administrators at schools that may have once been good, but now squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, without any concern for the people providing the very services they are charging exorbitant amounts for. Life is just far too short to feel trapped in a bad place and not be able to go home for extended periods of time. Covid has changed this game and it’s not ever going back to the way it was. Your sanity can only be guarded by you, everyone else is too busy guarding theirs. There will always be other jobs.


  13. My school in Thailand have been great. They paid for my quarantine arranged vaccine and we even got our annual bonus in August. Some staff went home for summer with school flights then funded their own quarantine on return. Although lockdown it’s not a bad place to be stuck!


  14. Jakarta, Indonesia: Online solidly for more than a year (March 2020 until June 2021.) Now hybrid with complex rolling timetable changes and asynchronous kids all over the place taking advantage of being wealthy and able in swan about in the USA shopping and dining out and “working” asynchronously. Plus many, many very challenging kids accepted to make up the shortfall in company pay students. Faculty are exhausted and ripped off left right and centre for covid tests and a draconian quarantine when returning. “Acceptable” vaccines not available widely, only less effective Chinese versions, so Brits in particular cannot get home. The school asks a lot and used to give a lot. The giving part is looking a bit ragged. They say probably no more hybrid after January but no-one really believes that. School is doing its best to be good about it but it’s just exhausting: constant change and uncertainty, many folks not been home for two years, Jakarta is pretty horrible to inhabit without a break. If hybrid continues, expect a few waverers to leave, there’s many on the fence right now.


  15. Indonesia will have one too. Many staff members leaving and have left JIS because of heartless leadership, cut in benefits blamed on covid, poor healthcare and quarantine to re-enter. Workload has increased to the point of burnout because they are afraid of enrollment falling further, so they do everything the parents want.


    1. Yeah, there’s some sneaky benefit cuts for sure. Salary not so great these days. Mismanagement by the suddenly departed, unlamented director has left a mess. Is it worth it? The school is functioning on the intense efforts of the faculty. Healthcare here is a worry without the emergency back up in Singapore. It’s a shame really, it used to be a fun place.


    1. After not being home for 18 months, I wish I had too. I urged a colleague not to break contract this summer, she did anyway, and and ended up getting a plush job in Canada immediately. Now I am thinking I might too. The lifestyle that we do this for seems to be years away from returning, if ever. Look at our world ‘leaders’. A deranged old man in Washington and the largest country in the world trying to cover up their responsibility for something that has killed 5 million people! It really makes your stomach turn.

      China and the USA might be on the brink of a major conflict over Taiwan. What I wouldn’t do to be cozy up in Whitehorse.


  16. There certainly won’t be a mass exodus from my WE country. Nobody at my own school is planning to leave. There have been many staffroom conversations about this and even teachers who want to move on eventually are holding off a year due to uncertainty about this year’s recruitment season. Most of us are spooked by troubles some ex-colleagues had with visas to new schools in other countries over the summer. And due to membership in a consortium programme, I know many people in other international schools in the country, and nobody I know at these other schools in country is leaving either. It seems people already in place here are mainly planning to stay and sit out this year’s recruitment.

    Of course there will be some vacancies in our country, but I anticipate the competition will be intense.


  17. With respect to Vietnam, although it looks as though we will be losing a few staff this year, this is to some degree a correction – this time last year when decisions were being made, Vietinam was in a very good place relative to lots of other countries in terms of covid, and staff who might otherwise have been ready to move on may have decided to sit tight and wait out the pandemic in a country which at that time had few cases and few restriction. Now, staying the extra year doesn’t look to have been a good move but if more staff move on this year, at least some of that movement is just last year’s movement delayed.


    1. Vietnam had the most draconian lockdown of all. I expect a lot of people to leave. It was too brutal and people are about to break psychologically.

      There is no clear indication that anyone will be able to return home this summer either.


  18. Expect a large exodus from GEMS schools across the board. No raises last school year OR this year and they gave NO notice, just kept the pay scale the same. MANY teachers are disgruntled and looking for jobs elsewhere.


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