• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:03am

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

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

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.
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).
The current ESF subsidy amounts to about HKD 25k per student per year. It is recurrent revenue.

If (future) ESF parents think that a one-off fee of HKD 38k will make up for this, they are severely kidding themselves. As the subsidy is phased out, ESF fees will have to rise by at least an amount equal to the subsidy. Or they would have to slash expenses (read: the elevated staff salaries), which of course they won't.
Yo Carlson quit and take the new gal with you. How about funding a leader who studied corporate responsibility?
agree with your first paragraph..
but what has this got to do with ccp vs brits?
when the brits were here, esf was only for whites, not chinese kids...was that better?
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.
he may hv to resign....but the problem is still unresolved!
Why they don't seek subsidies from the countries where they come from? They are their people and they should be responsible for their education. HK taxpayers have no obligation to finance an education with a better quality than local schools for those coming from other countries. Most expat-pupils would later return to the their homeland.
Those expats holding a British passport should ask London for that one-off payments and then the school fees. Likewise for other countries' passport holders.
Not British but have to agree.
The statement about the Brits unfortunately has little root in reality. While perhaps not as extreme as Hong Kong's, in particular the UK's secondary and higher education system is also increasingly a two-tier affair where only the rich and privileged gain access to the top institutions.



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