Bid to raise fees at nine direct subsidy schools
Dennis Chong and Johnny Tam
At least a tenth of the city's semi-private direct subsidy schools aim to raise fees for the next academic year.
The Education Bureau says that of Monday, 24 of the roughly 80 such schools have informed it about their fee plans. Nine have applied to increase their fees, while 15 will leave them unchanged.
The lack of submissions from the other schools suggests they intend to maintain their fees.
They may still apply for an increase but there is no guarantee that the bureau will endorse it.
Most of the nine schools opted for a single-digit fee increase, in line with inflation, said Dr Lam Kin-wah, who heads a concern group of direct-subsidy-school managers.
A South China Morning Post survey found that some of the elite schools - including St Paul's Co-educational College, St Paul's Convent School and Diocesan Girls' School - were planning to maintain their fees.
But others have drafted increases of about 10 per cent. For instance, YMCA of HK Christian College in Tung Chung plans to raise annual fees for Form One pupils from HK$25,500 to HK$28,000.
At Confucius Hall Secondary School, annual fees for new pupils will double from HK$1,000 to HK$2,000.
A school spokesman said that the extra funds would be used to hire native-English-speaking teachers.
An Education Bureau spokeswoman said officials would study the schools' accounts before approving their fee increases.
'To improve transparency, the bureau has asked direct subsidy scheme schools to conduct a thorough consultation with parents,' she said.
In 1988, the government established the direct subsidy scheme for schools to introduce greater flexibility to the education system.
Although they receive government funding, they enjoy greater flexibility than public schools in financial planning and curriculum design.
But many came under fire in 2010 for poor administration and for investing heavily in upscale properties and the stock market.
There have also been complaints that some schools raised fees despite having large cash reserves, prompting the authorities to tighten rules on spending.
Prices of textbooks for the upcoming academic year are also expected to rise 3 to 4 per cent due to inflation, according to a coalition of textbook publishers formed by the Hong Kong Educational Publishers Association and Anglo-Chinese Textbook Publishers Organisation.
That's despite the government's demand that publishers 'debundle' the cost of textbooks from teaching materials to shift more of the financial burden from students to schools.