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Fees at ESF schools in Hong Kong could rise by as much as 25 per cent next year

Proposed increases would see increases in all year groups, with pupils in Years 12 and 13 having to pay HK$135,000 in the next academic year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 6:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 3:00pm

The biggest group of international schools catering to English-speaking children has proposed fee increases of up to 24.7 per cent as the loss of its government ­subvention affects Primary Three level.

This means that the English Schools Foundation could charge parents of Year Three pupils HK$111,200 for the school year starting in August, compared with HK$89,200 this year.

CEO Belinda Greer explained in a letter to parents that HK$17,300 of the planned increase was due to the loss of the subvention, which started being phased out two years ago and will last for a period of 13 years.

The ESF runs 22 international schools for about 17,700 pupils from more than 60 nationalities.

“[The] government subvention will continue for all students in Years Four to 13 in 2018-19,” she said.

“A new fee structure applies to students who joined ESF Year One in August 2016 and August 2017, and to students joining ESF Year One in August 2018.”

ESF school fee rises hurt Hong Kong’s middle class, and the city as a whole

For Years One and Two of its primary schools, including the Jockey Club Sarah Roe school, the foundation plans to raise fees from HK$106,500 to HK$111,200. For Years Four to Six, the proposed increase is from HK$89,200 to HK$93,900. For Years Seven to 11 of its secondary schools, including the Jockey Club Sarah Roe school, the foundation plans to raise fees from HK$122,900 to HK$128,400. For Years 12 and 13, the proposed increase is from HK$129,100 to HK$135,000.

Greer told parents: “I want to assure you that our financial planning takes careful account of the need for financial prudence, as well as the impact that any fee increase has on our parents.”

She said the average increase was at the minimum level needed to meet rising costs while maintaining the quality of education.

For its private independent schools, Discovery College and Renaissance College, the suggested increases are 6.1 per cent and 5.9 per cent, respectively. And at its five kindergartens, fees would rise by 5.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent. 

All increases are subject to approval by the Education Bureau.

Separately, a bureau spokeswoman said that as of March 19, it had received around 740 fee proposals for the next school year from around 1,000 kindergartens in Hong Kong.

Of around 750 schools participating in the Free Quality Kindergarten Education scheme, about 580 had submitted fee proposals, with around 450 applying for fare increment, she said. The scheme, first implemented in September last year, provides kindergartens with annual subsidies of HK$33,190 per pupil for half-day classes, and HK$43,150 to HK$53,100 for full-day courses. 

Up to 27.5 per cent rise in tuition approved for English Schools Foundation institutions in Hong Kong

Around 110 kindergartens indicated fees would remain the same, while 15 said they planned to lower fees, the spokeswoman added.

She also said that the bureau had received some 160 fee proposals from those that were not participating in the scheme. Around 130 involved fee increments, while one involved lowering fees and the rest were for fees to remain the same, she said.

“All along, this bureau has a comprehensive mechanism to examine the adjustment of tuition fees for kindergartens,” she said.

“Only expenditures directly related to teaching and learning, school operations and the maintenance of education service levels will be considered. 

“We will also consider the overall financial and operating conditions of kindergartens, in order to keep tuition fees at a reasonable level.”

There were 714,740 foreign residents in Hong Kong as of February 2018, according to the latest Immigration Department figures.