Expats pay out tens of thousands to send kids to boarding schools

by Ray Clancy on August 4, 2015

Expats often send their children to boarding schools in order to provide the best possible education and give their offspring some kind of continuity.

But such a decision does not come cheap with research showing that parents fork out tens of thousands of pounds a year for each child at a boarding school.

educationChildrenIt is well known that some of the most elite schools, such as Eton and Harrow in the UK, can cost over £35,000 a year per pupil but top international boarding schools in popular expat locations such as the United States can also cost over £35,000 and Switzerland over £20,000 a year.

Research from currency firm FXcompared shows that the average cost of a boarding school in the UK is £31,000 and in the United States it is also over £30,000. But in other top expat countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates it is much less at £18,000, £16,000 and £11,000, respectively.

Figures from the Independent Schools Council show that there are more than 31,000 foreign and British students whose parents live abroad, in UK independent schools. Some of these schools charge higher fees for overseas students, adding between 8% and 25% to the cost.

Even attending a private school as a day pupil is still expensive, around £20,000 in the UK and £13,000 to £30,000 in the United States. In Australia and Germany the fees are around £12,000 while French international schools charge nearly £14,000 a year.

The FXcompared report estimates it costs nearly £1 billion a year in total for parents from overseas to send students to school in the UK, and that’s just in fees. On top of this there are the cost of uniforms, sportswear and equipment, lunches for day pupils and possibly extras such as music lessons.

“There are steadily increasing numbers of pupils in the UK whose parents live overseas, part of a billion pound market for international boarders at UK schools,” said Daniel Webber, managing director of FXCompared.

The number of international pupils at private schools in the UK has held steady, according to the ISC annual 2015 census. Overall there now 517,113 pupils at ISC schools, more than at any other time.

This increase has been fuelled by both British and international pupils. There are 27,211 international pupils with parents living overseas which is 5.3% of total pupil numbers, little changed from 1982, when the proportion of international pupils was 4.4%.

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