ESF - English Schools Foundation

Another ESF school raises fees, adds levy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2011, 12:00am

Another private international school under the English Schools Foundation has announced a fee increase and a levy on parents - the second to do so in two days.

Discovery College in Discovery Bay will increase its annual tuition fees by 6.6 per cent for the new academic year and impose an annual non-refundable 'building fund' levy of HK$9,500 for both new and existing pupils.

The announcement came a day after Renaissance College in Ma On Shan said it would increase tuition fees 5 per cent and imposed a one-off non-refundable levy of HK$23,500.

The increase at the Discovery Bay school will raise fees for primary pupils by HK$4,800 to HK$77,300 and for secondary pupils by HK$6,400 to HK$103,400.

The building levy will have to be paid for all pupils each year from August next year.

Parents reacted angrily to the announcement. One said on that the fee increase of 6.6 per cent far outstripped inflation: 'On top of this increase, every child will be charged the building fund fee. So in reality the fees have been increased by 20 per cent [for primary students].' Including the cost of the capital levy, fees for secondary pupils will rise by 16.4 per cent for the 2012-13 academic year.

ESF communications manager Susanna Chiu said the levy could be paid over 10 monthly instalments to ease the financial burden on parents.

'We forecast that the levy will generate HK$13.6 million per year for the school in 2016-17 when the school is running at full capacity of 1,300 students,' she said.

The levy would help pay for annual capital maintenance, which cost HK$2 million to HK$3 million, she said. The foundation paid HK$170 million towards the building of the school. The college is required to repay the construction cost to the ESF within 20 years of its opening. It now pays HK$5.3 million a year but after the levy is imposed it will pay HK$15.5 million annually.

Chiu said Discovery College needed a bigger capital levy than Renaissance College because it was smaller and had less income.

The college was opened in 2007 and now has 900 pupils.

In an e-mail sent to parents on Tuesday, the chairwoman of the board of ESF Educational Services, Heather Du Quesnay, said the school recorded an annual financial operating deficit of HK$19 million in the 2009-10 academic year.

'The forecasts show that the college will not be able to break even under the current fee structure,' Du Quesnay said. The fee increases would help pay a wage increase of 3 per cent for all teaching and support staff, she said. 'A community meeting will be held [later] to explain the college's current financial situation and future plan [to parents].'

Fees at other ESF schools will rise by up to 3.3 per cent.