Global international school fees: a comparison

New data from global mobility specialist, ECA International has revealed the average cost per year for a place at international schools in locations around the world.

New data from global mobility specialist, ECA International has revealed the average cost per year for a place at international schools in locations around the world.
Relocate Magazine January 2020
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Businesses relocating staff to the UK will need to consider the rising annual cost of international schools, which now cost £27,316 on average – £1,068 more than last year. This makes the UK the eighth most expensive country in the world for international schooling. The UK is £18,351 more expensive than its closest neighbour, the Republic of Ireland, where a year’s fees at an international school costs £8,965 on average.At the top of the list, the ECA International (ECA) found that China is the most expensive location in the world for international schooling, costing £33,233 a year – nearly £6,000 more than the UK.Steven Kilfedder, production manager at ECA, says, “The continued high demand for places at international schools in the UK, coupled with rising costs for many international schools in the UK as the need for experienced English teachers continues to rise, means that international school fees have once more risen faster than inflation and are now firmly among the most expensive in the world.”

Europe’s priciest location

Belgium remains the most expensive location in Europe, costing an average of £31,331 per year, despite many European countries dropping in the rankings. Among the countries with the smallest rise in school fees were Portugal (£17,883) and Germany (£17,822), which saw fees rise by £404 and £366 respectively on last year.Following the closure of a number of large international schools, Russia has seen the biggest increase in school fees within Europe, increasing £2,289 to £19,534 on last year’s figure.
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Mr Kilfedder says, “Worsening relationships between Russia and Europe have led to many European teachers in international schools being denied visas. This has led to closures of international schools, including the renowned Anglo-American School in St. Petersburg. This lower supply of schools has led to an increase in fees as demand for places at the remaining schools grows.”He continues, “The euro has performed relatively poorly against the US dollar over the last year or so, which is good news for overseas parents who will see school fees in Europe stay cheaper in their home currency. This has pushed many European locations down our global rankings.”

Big rises for Asian countries

International schools in Asia have seen some of the biggest increases in international school fees, with China retaining the top spot as the most expensive location in the world, costing £33,233 per year on average – £949 more expensive than the next costliest location, the USA.Experiencing a greater demand for what is considered a higher quality ‘English education’, Myanmar saw the biggest increase of all Asian locations, increasing by £2,289 to £18,520 per year. Thailand (£21,753), Indonesia (£22,500) and Vietnam (£22,323) also saw big rises, increasing by an average of £3,038.“We have seen a sharp rise in the demand for top-level international schooling from expats in Asia and this has led to more investment in private schools, including more teachers being hired, leading to an increase in fees. Strong performances from Asian currencies such as the Thai baht made the fees more expensive for parents from other countries,” says Mr Kilfedder.
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Continued upturn for the USA

A strong dollar against the pound means that parents in the USA can expect to pay an average of £32,284 per year, increasing by £2,767 from 2018. Second only to China, international school fees in the USA are predicted to increase over the next 12 months as the dollar continues to perform well against the Chinese yuan.Mr Kilfedder explains, “The price of private international schooling in the US has been steadily rising for several years now and this is expected to continue for as long the US dollar performs well against other major currencies such as the yuan. The US is already top for kindergarten and primary school fees, so if current trends continue we could see international secondary schools in the US become the world’s most expensive too in the near future”.

Israel enters the top ten

Israel is the most expensive country in the Middle East for international schooling, costing £26,376 per year on average, £8,698 more expensive than the UAE (£17,678), the next costliest location. Its increase of £2,779 sees the country move into the top ten most expensive locations in the world for the first time. Conversely, the lowest international school costs in the Middle East can be found in Bahrain, where annual fees cost £10,373 on average.Mr Kilfedder explains, “The primary reason for the increase in school fees for international schools in Israel is the strong recent performance of the Israeli shekel. As the currency continues to increase in value, overseas families living in Israel will see the price of school fees increase in relation to their home currency.” 

Top ten most expensive locations for international school fees

RankCountryAverage annual school fees (£)
8United Kingdom27,316


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