Top international schools applying for fee increases

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2008, 12:00am

Annual tuition fees are set to rise across the independent schools sector this year, with one leading international school planning an increase of 17 per cent.

About 20 international schools and 40 private schools have lodged applications to raise fees for the coming school year with the Education Bureau, which will make decisions before the new term starts in August.

Of 12 prominent international schools surveyed by Education Post this week, nine were planning to raise fees, with increases ranging from 3.5 per cent at German Swiss International School to 17 per cent at Canadian International School.

Chinese International School is seeking an 8.5 per cent fee rise, bringing the annual cost of a Year 12 or 13 place to HK$143,570. Hong Kong International School wants a 5 per cent increase, which will mean a Grade 12 place will cost HK$165,000.

French International School plans to increase charges by 6 per cent, while rises of between 4 per cent and 5 per cent are sought by Australian International School, Singapore International School, Discovery Bay International School and Yew Chung Hong Kong International School.

Dave McMaster, head of Canadian International School, said: 'We, like most of the international schools, saw a need to increase our fees this year. For us, it was to ensure that we retain our best teachers and are able to recruit the best teachers.

'The majority of our teachers are Canadian and it was getting more difficult to recruit given the drop in the US dollar. Another factor is that the rental rates in Hong Kong have been getting progressively higher. We have already addressed remuneration for teachers. We gave the teachers a salary increase and a flexible allowance for the cost of living, including rents, and we will have to take a look at it again.'

A spokeswoman for German Swiss International School said: 'GSIS faces the same challenges as many other international schools in Hong Kong: rising costs of living and the need to maintain a competitive rate of compensation for teachers and staff.'

Ava Goei Vujovich of Discovery Bay, whose daughter has just gained a place in the reception class at Chinese International, said international school fees were now so high that they were pushing some expatriates to return to their home country to educate their children.

'If you look at fees for the English Schools Foundation in comparison with HKIS or CIS, it's a tremendous difference,' she said. 'You are talking about almost double. It's a tremendous pressure on parents.

'I know some parents in Discovery Bay who are leaving Hong Kong because of the difficulty of getting an affordable school place. We were delighted to get a place at CIS. But just for reception, it seemed an awful lot of money to pay.'

A spokeswoman for the Education Bureau said it would closely examine the justifications for the proposed increases in accordance with the established mechanism, taking into account factors such as teachers' salaries and upgrading of school facilities.

Schools would be informed of the bureau's decisions before the start of the school year and were required to upload the information on their websites.