A world of schools to choose from
British boarding schools remain the major choice for Hong Kong students. The normal age for starting at boarding school is 13, says Jessica Ogilvy-Stuart, the director of the Branson Learning Centre, but prep schools take children earlier. Parents need to look at applying 18 months before they want to send their children to school.
Cost for tuition and boarding is HK$400,000 and above once flights and uniforms are factored in. However, costs for studying at other forms of schools are considerably less.
The seven-year high school education structure appeals to parents in Hong Kong. Others include the A-level examinations as an entrance to university, as opposed to the International Baccalaureate increasingly used in Hong Kong.
Parents can take a look at the Boarding Schools Association website, www.boarding.org.uk.
There are two education fairs per year for British schools. The next, organised by agency Academic Asia, is the 46th UK Education Expo 2012 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai on October 27 and 28. The other fair is held in May or June each year.
The British Council also has comprehensive information on studying in Britain: www.britishcouncil.org/hongkong-education.htm
The Cambridge Education Group helps British and international students look for the programme that best suits them and also provides foundation courses ahead of university entrance. See www.ceg-uk.com
New Zealand has a mix of schools that provide boarding options. More than 100 schools take boarders. Some of these are integrated schools which sit somewhere between state and independent schools, often with a religious affiliation. The appeal of New Zealand is its 'green and clean' environment, plus its reputation for sports and music.
Jude Connochie is the director of boarding at Rangi Ruru Girls' School in Christchurch and a member of the New Zealand Boarding Schools Association. 'All the schools in New Zealand will take international students,' she said. 'Most will help them stay with families.'
Boarding costs are usually about NZ$12,000 (HK$72,000) per year. For Rangi Ruru, for example, the costs are NZ$36,400 when tuition costs are factored in.
The New Zealand Boarding Schools Association has more than 90 member schools and provides a comprehensive directory. See www.boarding.org.nz
Peter Upham, an executive director of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), which represents 285 schools in the United States and Canada, advises parents to look for the school that will suit their child rather than the school's university list.
'Are there some of our schools that send higher percentages to MIT or Yale or Harvard? Probably. But it may just mean that school has a selective student body,' he said. 'It's a bit of a myth that the school is the big ticket. You should look at the quality of the education first.'
According to the Institute of International Education's Open Doors, there are 8,136 Hong Kong students studying in the US. Those figures are from last year.
Median fees for tuition and boarding are about US$42,000 per year, according to TABS. Some schools now offer the International Baccalaureate diploma. Many of the TABS schools also offer Advanced Placement courses.
If students gain high enough marks, they can earn university credits.
The Institute of International Education American and Canadian Boarding Schools Fair 2012 will be held on November 3 at the Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong.
For more information: The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), which represents boarding schools in the US and Canada - www.boardingschools.com/home.aspx
Institute of International Education Hong Kong - www.iiehongkong.org
Hong Kong students are now an established market in Canada, says Sarah Milligan, the director of outreach for Canadian Accredited Independent Schools Boarding Schools, with more than 300 students attending boarding schools across the country every year.
A safe environment and sports opportunities are part of the Canadian experience. Many students have relatives living in major Canadian cities who can sometimes act as guardians.
Tuition fees range from C$30,000 (HK$227,000) to C$50,000, depending on the school. For more information on boarding schools and fees: www.boardingschools.ca