Competition for international school places in Singapore intensifies

The cost of debentures for Hong Kong’s international schools have fallen by a third. This as international schools in Singapore sees a rising number of enquiries and a shortfall of places.

Cheerful school friends with arms around each other, happiness, togetherness, friendship. Portrait of school children smiling in classroom
The continuing expatriate exodus from Hong Kong has seen competition for international school places in Singapore increase, as debentures for Hong Kong’s over 50 international schools decline. This is according to reports in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and the Financial Times
Related reading from Relocate Global

Border closures impact appeal

William Yiu, reporting for the Hong Kong daily, said that the cost of school debentures – which gives students fast-track and priority access to schools’ admissions processes – has “plummeted by as much as 40 per cent from its peak.” Debentures for Hong Kong’s international schools, which are among the highest attaining in the world according to the OECD’s PISA statistics, had ranged from around HKD100,000 to around HKD6,000,000.However, border closures caused by the pandemic and a lack of confidence in Hong Kong’s rule of law have dented the Special Administrative Region’s appeal to globally mobile workers.Debentures at Harrow International School Hong Kong in Tuen Mun were priced at nearly HK$6 million (US$770,000) in 2014, are now going for about HK$3.4 million, a decrease of 43 per cent, says the SCMP’s report.Speaking to the SCMP, Raymond Kwok, founder of BA Marketing & Co Ltd, an agency specialising in buying and selling school debentures, said the market could rebound. “The drop started two years ago after the pandemic broke out, especially for Harrow International School, as fewer students from the mainland came to Hong Kong to study. But I think the price will go up after the border opens.”

Competition for international school places in Singapore

The cost and demand for international school places in Hong Kong could further recover as local interest picks up and preferences change. Some families are moving children from government-funded schools to international schools with a view to potentially relocating outside of the country and continuing their education overseas.With multinationals based regionally in Hong Kong also considering their options, Singapore – over 1,500 miles away and another major centre for globally mobile families – is likely to be among the winners in the talent wars. Speaking to the Financial Times, Craig Considine, Chief Executive of the Singapore-based Tanglin Trust School, said January and February this year brought as many applications as for the whole of last year, with 15 families interested in every one junior school place. This intense demand for international school places in Singapore could scupper company and families’ plans, with boarding and day schools in the UK and Australia being among the education options in globally mobile families’ next most favoured destinations. 

Education key in international relocation 

Each of these trends show how important international education and schools are to securing global talent and setting up new operations. This is something international schools themselves recognise, as well as schools in Hong Kong, many of which offer corporate debentures. “Relocation and schools transitions truly are a team effort,” says Fiona Murchie, Managing Editor of Relocate Global and host for many of its webinars on all aspects of international education. “Having the right information to hand is vital for families and employees if they are to make a good move. If the family is settled, then the assignment is far more likely to be a success.”

To explore international education and the world of work, why not join us on 9 June for the results of the Think Global People and Relocate Awards, and the Future of Work Festival?

Read more international education and schools news here.

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory 

Related Articles