How the different countries stack up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 June, 2010, 12:00am

AUSTRALIA Primary education is designed to give a sound education in key areas, including English, maths, studies of society and the environment, science, arts, languages, and health and physical education. There is a social justice theme of tolerance towards other cultures. Schools typically offer English language programmes for international students. At upper secondary, subjects might include law, psychology, computing, graphic design, aviation and drama. Public exam results are recognised by universities across the country. Attending government secondary schools involves home-stay arrangements rather than boarding houses. Tuition fees range from A$9,500 (HK$62,500) to A$13,000 a year, while home-stay fees are about A$300 per week. Tuition fees at private schools range from A$15,000 to A$32,000 per year. Boarding fees range from A$13,000 to A$19,000 per year. The cost of home-stay is similar to that for government schools. Sources: Australian government website ( and Aston Education (

CANADA Canada offers quality education at a relatively low cost, and enjoys a reputation as a culturally diverse, friendly and safe country. Public and private schools adhere to the curriculum requirements set by the education ministry in their province. Public schools are managed by a local school board or district, and offer their coeducational day programmes to a limited number of international students. Overseas students will be placed with a Canadian home-stay family where they can learn about Canadian culture and enhance their English-speaking skills. Private schools have more freedom in setting entrance requirements. Private schools provide a boarding and/or home-stay option. For public schools, tuition and home-stay fees vary from C$16,500 (HK$122,500) to C$21,000 per year. Tuition and boarding costs at a private school range from C$30,000 to C$45,000 per year. Source: Canadian Education Centre Network (

BRITAIN Hong Kong students can attend two main types of schools here; independent or, if they hold full British or EU passports, state schools. Many opt for private international or tutorial colleges for A-level or its equivalent, or state sixth form and further education colleges. Independent schools focus on the general qualifications normally taken by students up to the age of 18. They charge between GBP22,000 (HK$248,500) and GBP28,300 a year, including boarding fees. A small number of state boarding schools are available only to British and EU passport holders, and those with residency rights in Britain. They charge boarding fees from GBP4,700 to GBP11,200 a year. Those in day schools can expect to pay around GBP650 per month for board and lodging. Tutorial and international colleges offer A-level, International Baccalaureate or international foundation courses for university. The colleges are focused on gaining university places for students. State sixth form and further education colleges are another option. They freely recruit international students. Tuition fees range from GBP5,000 to GBP11,000 a year. Hong Kong students enrol in them for traditional academic programmes such as A-levels and vocational courses such as the BTEC Diploma. Sources: British Council Hong Kong ( and Aston Education (

UNITED STATES US education focuses on honing soft skills, such as critical thinking, and gives students scope to pursue their interests. University admission criteria can be competitive, and are based on students' grades over years, not just leaving exams, plus either the SAT or ACT official scores. Proof of English-language proficiency, extra-curricular activities, teachers' recommendation letters and personal essays are also required. Many schools also offer Advanced Placement courses - which have a learning style similar to that of the International Baccalaureate - that qualify students for university credits. Fees for US independent schools vary and can be expensive, as they do not receive any government support. On average, expect to spend up to about US$40,000 per year for tuition, room and meals. Source: Institute of International Education (