Expats facing higher fees to send their children to international schools

by Ray Clancy on December 7, 2016

Expats often send their children to international schools, but new research shows it is getting costlier with school fees up by 3.5% in 2016.

In Asia the most expensive international schools are in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, while in Europe they are in Switzerland, Belgium and the UK.

Children-SchoolThe ExpatFinder International School Fee Survey 2016, designed to provide guidance on navigating cost challenges relating to global relocation, bases its ranking on a comprehensive market survey of 707 international schools across 98 countries.

The survey shows that international school fees are steadily rising, particularly in markets that are popular destinations with expats. According to Sébastien Deschamps, chief executive officer of ExpatFinder, this is resulting in expat parents rethinking their entire approach to their children’s education.

‘For example, we see more and more parents considering options such as home schooling or enrolling their children in local schools that offer internationally recognised curriculum. Some have also opted for private tutors that provide supplementary native language lessons in lieu of costly international education,’ said Deschamps.

China is the most expensive in the world with average annual fees of US$36,400, followed by Switzerland at US$28,300, and Belgium at US$27,800 while the UK, Hong Kong, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Austria and Australia all have annual fees above US$20,000.

In the survey expats explain the impact high fees have had. ‘We shifted both our children to an international school so they can learn French, our mother tongue. However, the high cost of education has in turn changed the way we budget for our lifestyle. We now limit ourselves on spending much more than we did in our home country. Paying for education and extracurricular activities now takes up the largest part of our monthly budget,’ said Helene Denaiffe, a French expat in Singapore.

But among the 707 international schools surveyed, annual tuition fees fluctuate from as high as US$48,170 in Switzerland’s Institut Le Rosey to as low as US$860 in Colombia’s Colegio Anglo-Colombiano.

It means that some expat parents want flexible packages when being relocated abroad. According to Stephen Park, head of global mobility at Fonterra, parents of younger children favour smaller and more intimate schools that are not necessarily the most expensive, but it depends on the child.

‘Given the rising costs of education and ability to access top schools in certain locations, we are noticing an increasing trend of short term international assignments and commuting assignments where children remain in the home location,’ he explained.

‘Some cities, such as Hong Kong, are particularly challenging. At times, it is competitive to get children into good schools and I imagine some employees may turn down assignments in Hong Kong for the sake of their children’s future. It just shows how important education has become,’ he added.

The survey also shows that Switzerland, the United States, Spain, France, and Sweden have the highest price variance between the most expensive and most affordable schools. Overall Spanish schools are the most affordable, standing at only US$6,320 per annum.

However, when comparing the average tuition fees of international schools located in capital cities with those in secondary cities, prices for the former can be up to five times more expensive.

‘I’m surprised to see such a price gap between international schools located in Paris and those in other French cities. International school fees in Paris are significantly more expensive for families not supported by their companies or embassies,’ said Camelia Pierre, an expat mother of two in France.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: