Leaders of the English Schools Foundation have refused to rule out charging a capital levy at its two private schools after parents were told fees will increase by up to 6 per cent. Annual fees at Renaissance College and Discovery College will go up by HK$4,100 for primary pupils to HK$72,500 and by HK$4,600 for secondary students in Year 7 to Year 11 to HK$97,000 from September. The increase is the third since Renaissance College was set up in 2006 and the second for Discovery College, which opened in 2007. A higher fee level will be charged for students in Year 12 and 13, with their fees going up by HK$5,600 to HK$98,000. The fee rise for the two private schools, which was announced in a letter sent to parents yesterday, comes just 10 days after parents at the ESF's 14 publicly-funded schools were told their fees would rise by up to 5.3 per cent. The five publicly-funded secondary schools will also bring in a higher rate for Year 12 and 13 from September, while a HK$25,000 one-off capital levy for all students at the 14 subsidised schools will be introduced in August next year. The letter to private-school parents states that the increase is needed for investment in 'development and facility enhancements', to fund a 2 per cent pay rise for teachers and support staff and to ensure that the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme is 'appropriately resourced'. It brought an angry response from parents at Renaissance College who accused the ESF of treating the school as a 'cash cow' and said it was unfair that the two schools, which already had higher fees, should also face a greater increase. One parent, who asked not to be named, said the fee rise was one percentage point higher for primary pupils at Renaissance College than at the subsidised ESF schools and between 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points higher for secondary students. 'Surely the percentage rise should be the same as other ESF schools,' she said, adding that the ESF's justifications for raising fees did not apply to the private schools. Another mother with a child at the school said: 'Renaissance College is a cash cow for the ESF. 'There has been a high level of teacher and pupil turnover at the school, with dissatisfied parents voting with their feet and leaving. So the increased payment award is clearly not performance-related.' ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said the private schools were costly to run - particularly in the start-up period - and the IB Diploma was a costly programme, while teachers' pay and benefits were being improved to recruit and retain staff. 'The two private independent schools have a large debt to the ESF - about HK$130 million for Renaissance College and HK$200 million for Discovery College - and that debt needs to be repaid,' she said. 'At the moment, we don't have a plan to introduce a levy for the private independent schools, but we will [keep] the situation under review.'