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  • Jul 26, 2014
  • Updated: 6:05am

English Schools Foundation

The English Schools Foundation (ESF) operates five secondary schools, nine primary schools and a school for students with special educational needs across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. It is the largest international educational foundation in Asia. 

NewsHong Kong
EDUCATION

ESF set to charge parents of new pupils up to HK$38,000

One-off, non-refundable fee is introduced following loss of government subsidy, angering parents who say ESF failed to plan ahead

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 8:10am

The English Schools Foundation is under fire from parents after revealing plans to impose a non- refundable one-off charge of up to HK$38,000 on new students from next year in its struggle to make ends meet.

ESF chief executive Belinda Greer said the new charge would replace an existing refundable levy that could no longer provide enough funds for replacement or renovation of its schools.

She said it was a means to "secure a long-term future for ESF in Hong Kong", but parents said it was a result of poor financial management.

"They haven't put aside funds. They should have done that 10 years ago when they were wealthy but they didn't," parent Hans Ladegaard said.

The foundation has been looking for ways to secure its finances and meet its costs after the government said it would phase out its HK$283 million annual subsidy from 2016.

"ESF has not in the past 47 years built depreciation into our accounts as the school buildings were gifted to us by the government at no cost," Greer said.

Parent Christian Mueller said failure to reserve money for maintenance was "severe negligence". "I cannot put fuel in my car, drive until it's finished and then say I have no more fuel."

Parents of new pupils now pay a refundable levy of HK$25,000.

Parents of students entering ESF schools from August next year will have to pay the one-off non-refundable charge, ranging from HK$38,000 for Year 1 students to HK$3,800 for Year 13 students. Parents of returning students will not be affected - neither will parents of students entering ESF's two private independent schools.

Foundation chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing, who was to have ended his three-year term last month, will stay on for a year to help draw up a 10-year development plan.

Former elected parents' representative Simon Osborne, who quit the ESF's board of governors over plans to raise capital from parents, said he felt vindicated as he had resigned on the principle that existing parents should be protected.

The new scheme will raise an additional HK$50 million a year for campus maintenance.

It will also help fund the redevelopment of Island School, which the ESF expects to cost about HK$1 billion.

Greer believes the new levy will not reduce ESF's competitiveness among other local international schools.

"If you look at the levy for ESF, it's much lower than any other schools that charge a capital levy," she said.

For example, Nord Anglia International School charges parents a one-off non-refundable levy of HK$80,000 once a child is given a place.

Greer vowed to look at ways to help parents who struggled to pay the levy so that students from less well-off families would not be driven away from ESF schools.

"We will look at introducing some kind of scheme that spreads that cost perhaps over the period of two years," she said.

She said the levy would be reviewed periodically but there were no plans to increase it soon.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

dynamco
www.scmp.com/lifestyle/family-education/article/1359426/esfs-new-chief-executive-belinda-greer-looks-boost
Quote: November 2013
“So parents may take some comfort that the ESF’s new chief executive, Belinda Greer, seems intent on ensuring that its schools remain relatively affordable to families seeking an English-medium education for their children. “The ESF has a very strong position & tradition in Hong Kong. I really don’t want ESF to lose [that], to become another group of international schools,” Greer says”
“We at the ESF have the responsibility to see how we can be more efficient, and along with efficiency is a close scrutiny of how we conduct our business,” she says.
“I would reassure parents that we would work with them to ensure that we are as efficient as we can be so that while fees increase, we are not increasing them significantly without looking at all aspects of our work.”
XYZ
A friend of mine once said of the U.S. government, "Where others claim conspiracy, I tend to look for incompetence." I think he's probably right.
.
In Hong Kong, where others blame incompetence, I now look for venality.
.
The SHK corruption trial is a case in point. Let's see about the ESF.
.
14u2nv
"If you look at the levy for ESF, it's much lower than any other schools that charge a capital levy," she said.
Yeah. but they have 20 kids to a class. not 33.
Camel
Well, time for the government to increase the quality of local schools. I am sure then the ESF problem wouldn't be a problem at all. Local schools can as well offer a 2nd curriculum to meet children of expatriates needs (with extra monthly school fees).
leormac
They talk like they care about the students.... but this is not about the students, it's about their profits. They took a wrong turn with their attitude years ago and now they send out an SOS with a 2 billion dollar property portfolio that they have no intention of touching. Look if parents are willing to pay, let them pay, but the truth is HK needs an alternative to the ESF system...something more transparent and more dedicated towards the students and not the dollars. So now the government needs to talk with the local schools, many of whom have teachers dedicated to educating our children, who have firsthand knowledge of HK education and dip into this pool of insight to create a viable alternative that is for the future of HK. So heed the call of the parents of non-esf schools and start giving them the attention they deserve and stop worrying about a private business. If they step out others will step in.
allan94
i agree, but the govt has no alternative. the state of the local schools is so bad....every parent knows that. the problem cannot be solved in 1 generation.
the long waiting list for esf places are majority local parents and kids.......they are fighting to get into the esf bec they know the local schools, even if free, are really bad.
leormac
Have to agree with you... naive of me to think that it's a quick fix....what really gets to me is the dilly dallying by the government.....they just need to commit now rather than later
537c1a25-5590-4e00-bb52-34f20a320969
The ESF is in a sorry state to be sure, and who do we have to Thank for that? Is Board of Directors and specifically it's chairman. Carlson Tong NEEDS to go. If this was any public corporation odds are he would have been given the boot long ago. Why do we parents put up with this constant garbage from the Board. It's high time the parents took control of it and bring about responsible fiscal management. Carlson Tong, be a stand up guy and resign!
allan94
he may hv to resign....but the problem is still unresolved!
allan94
Firstly, there is a lonnnng waiting list of students to enter the esf. so esf is not worried about students dropping out bec of the cost. HKers are rich. Secondly, the fees will keep increasing......so if u hv no money, take out your kids now....bec every year, there will be new "levies" and new "money calls".
Why is everyone complaining? the esf is now (or will be) a totally private organisation, similar to american school, canada school, etc. The debate about the subvention was lost..the govt caved in to the public rancour....so esf parents, i guess u dont hv much clout in the community.
In a way, the current situation is "more equal" now. No more of this "are u expat" or "can your kids speak chinese" interview questions. No one will be discriminated for admission based on race or language anymore. Now, its just "pls write this amount on the cheque", when u try to admit your child.
As i said , there is a lonnng waiting list of students. why? bec the local schools are terrible!! if u want your kids to survive in the future world that requires english and putonghua, dont send your kids to any local school. Just go talk to any average 13-18 year-olds from a local school today in english or putonghua.....and u will know what i mean. its a sad, sad situation, but it wont be solved in one generation.
so, welcome to hk.....money talks.....if u hv no money, dont hv kids, or just get out.....the govt doesnt give a **** about your problems.

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