Expat parents hit by increase in international school fees

The annual cost of tuition at international schools is set to rise during the current year by an average of two per cent.

The results of a recent survey indicate the global mean annual cost of an international school education for expat children in 2017 is now $15,363 per child, excluding extras. The study, undertaken by ECA International, revealed China is now the most expensive location for international school tuition, with the USA, UK, France and Switzerland also featuring in the top 10 priciest countries.

Expat parents prefer their children to be educated at international private academies due to the far lower standards of tuition and the lack of recognised qualification courses as well a non-bilingual classes at local schools. China’s soaring prices reflect high demand from Chinese parents as well as from expats, with popular schools attracting far more potential pupils than the available number of places. The trend towards international education in non-English-speaking countries is also being fuelled by parents’ beliefs that the international standard qualifications offered are the best start in life for their children as regards gaining a place in a top university.

The UK, USA, France and Switzerland dominate the market at present, due to recognised qualifications such as the International High School Diploma, the French and International Baccalaureates and the International GCSEs and A-Levels. Several countries not often associated with high educational standards as also found in the survey’s top ten most expensive location for international schooling. Nigeria and Angola, for example, took second and ninth places, but the high costs were down to security issues rather than the excellence of the education provided.

Several countries’ international schooling costs have increased beyond the 2 per cent average, with Singaporean international school rates up by 3.6 per cent over 2016. China’s 5.13 pr cent increase tops the UK’s at 3.16 per cent and the USA’s average increase is now at 4.6 per cent. The worst news for expat parents in countries with no international standard education is that, as pupils get older, fees rise commensurate with each year of age, with boarding costs adding yet more expense to ensuring a good education for expat children. The average cost of boarding at a secondary level in the UK is around £29,000, an increase of 2.8 per cent on last year.

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