Apple faces increasingly stiff competition as it works to halt its declining share in the US K12 (Kindergarten to 12th graders) education market, according to a report from research firm Quality Education Data (QED).

QED surveyed 450 US schools to find that Apple now accounts for one third of installed computers in US schools, with 35 per cent of respondents telling the researchers of their plans to move to Dell. 21 per cent will buy Apple.

Apple held over 41 per cent of the sector until 1996; its market share fell to 26.8 per cent in 1997.

Reasons for Apple's changing fortunes in education are suggested in a piece published by the Baltimore Sun today. The piece cites price and "the fact that students need to be exposed to Windows as that is what most businesses use".

Despite this, the company continues its work to boost its educational-market share on a global basis, winning particular recognition in the UK.

Apple UK will exhibit at major UK education event, BETT 2003 next year, and is up for two awards from that organization. The company has also become deeply involved in work to extend ICT use in UK classrooms.

The report concludes that Apple will have to become even more aggressive in terms of its educational pricing in order to maintain its US market share in the current economy.