international schools

Cost of international schools abroad up almost 2% in 2017

by Ray Clancy on March 29, 2017

Expat parents often opt for international schools for their children but they are set to pay more to send them to such establishments with new research showing the cost has increased by almost 2%.

It means that the annual cost of international school tuition fees is up on average by 1.9% for 2017 to a global mean of US$15, 363, according to research from ECA International.

Many parents choose an international standard private school because local ones are of inadequate quality and may not offer bilingual education or internationally recognised qualifications.

ECA’s survey of international school fees found that the most expensive country for tuition fees in 2017 is China with an average annual cost for secondary school tuition of US$39,581. The organisation says that there is intense demand for education leading to recognised international qualifications in China from expats and locals which has led to such high prices.

Competition for places in international schools from local nationals is a trend emerging in many non-English speaking countries, where an English language education is often seen as the best way to improve a child’s chance of gaining a place at a top university.

Other countries in the top 10 most expensive include the United States, the UK, Switzerland and France. ECA says that these countries dominate the market in internationally recognised qualifications with the International High School Diploma, International GCSE’s/A-Levels, the International Baccalaureate and the French Baccalaureate.

Countries such as Angola and Nigeria are second and ninth most expensive because of the high cost of security associated with providing safe international schools within urban areas rather than the quality of the schools, the report points out. There are fewer suitable schools in these countries too, despite large expat populations, which allows the small number of viable options to raise their prices even higher.

In some countries, tuition fees have increased by far more than the 1.9% global average. In Singapore, for example, they have increased by 3.6% since last year, in China they are up by 5.13%, in the UK up 3.16% and in the US up 4.6%.

The report also points out that in most cases school cost increases as pupils get older as most international schools base their fees on the age of the pupil with year seven costing more than year six, for example.

Boarding adds even more costs and is the only option if the family is based in a city without an international school or if they are in a country without one they may send their children abroad to board, with the UK being particularly popular with expat boarders.

But boarding is also an increasingly expensive option. For example, the average cost of secondary tuition at a boarding school in the UK is US$38,208 for 2016/2017, up 2.85% on the previous year.

But the experts at the ECA reckon it is worth shopping around and also looking for schools that have outposts in certain countries. In China school tuition fees can vary widely even in the same city. In Shanghai fees can range from 66% to 112% of the average Chinese secondary school tuition fee. French and German curriculum schools in China are cheaper too. The Lycee Francais and Deutsche Schule in Shanghai only charge 54% and 56% of the average China secondary school tuition fee respectively.

In some countries, it may be possible to reduce costs by educating children at a non-fee-paying state school, some of which are of a comparable standard to those at home. However, in some countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, international students may be charged to use state schools which are free to locals.


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