International school fees rise by almost 20 per cent

The results of a survey of over 680 schools by have revealed a stark rise in international school fees in 2018.

International school fees rise by almost 20 per cent
The latest annual survey of international school fees by has been published, revealing a large hike in school fees since 2017.The survey of 688 international schools across 27 countries revealed a staggering 19 per cent rise in international school fees in 2018 which means that more expatriates will be feeling the pinch of providing for their children abroad, particularly as demand for international school places by affluent locals steadily rises. 

The most expensive countries for international education

  1. China – US$33,591per annum
  2. Switzerland – US$32,453per annum
  3. Belgium – US$29,613per annum
  4. United Kingdom – US$26,627per annum
  5. Singapore – US$25,758per annum
In 2018 the total cost of a single child’s full international education varies between US$1,106,883 for Surval Montreux School in Switzerland and just US$6,542 for Global English School in Nonthaburi, Thailand.“This issue of supply and demand has plagued the international education market for the past two decades. With more companies expanding into developing markets, international schools have struggled to meet the demand from expat talents.“Exacerbating this problem is the escalating demand for international school places from the exploding middle classes of host countries as local parents perceive that an international education would give their children an edge in gaining spots in prestigious Western universities and eventually, positions at multinational companies. It is therefore reasonable to expect fees to continue to increase,” explained Sebastien Deschamps, CEO and Co-Founder of ExpatFinder.comSchool search and education advice - connect with our in-country experts

The growing demand in China

The rise of China to the top of the table is supported by findings from ISC Research, who provide data and intelligence on the international schools market. Their data shows the demand by affluent Chinese families for English international education with the result being rising international schools fees.Well known independent school brands are increasingly opening in the region, catering to a growing demand. According to ISC Research, of the ten sister schools of independent school brands that opened overseas in the 2017-2018 academic year, five were in China. Nine of the 20 due to open in the coming 2018-2019 year are also in China.According to Richard Gaskell, schools director at ISC Research, “English, as the language of learning, is growing in popularity the world over; so much so that it’s now considered a global phenomenon. As countries develop and economies improve, wealthier local aspirational parents prioritise education for their children; an increasing number selecting English-medium education where it is available.”Prices in the East rose to an average of US$16,403 per annum in 2018 – 16 per year, making it the most expensive country for international education this year. 
The latest education news from the Summer 2018 issue of Relocate Magazine

Singapore’s 20 per cent increase in fees to US$25,758 per annum secures its spot as the fifth most expensive country for international education. As Asia remains a hotbed for expat relocations, it is unsurprising that new international schools continue to emerge to cater for growing demand. In some cases government policies on restricting the number of national students able to enter international schools are helping to ensure that enough spaces are available to expats.“We see that some markets like South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore have made education policy reforms to limit local access to international education by locals which may temporarily ease the situation for expats,” commented Mr Deschamps. 

Europe: Switzerland, Belgium and the UK dominate

With Europe being home to some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the world, it is unsurprising that the five most expensive schools in the survey are located here, along with three of the top five countries: Switzerland, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.The cost of international education in the West is significantly higher than in the East (US$22,730 per annum compared to US$16,403 per annum), although this is offset by the higher wages on offer across the region. The status of Western – and especially European – schools drives prices alongside the relatively high cost of living.Mr Deschamps said, “International schools that offer prestigious qualifications can charge higher prices because these are internationally recognised and easily transferable between countries. Talents moving to these markets should note that even if they manage to negotiate their children’s school fees as a part of their salary package, their employers are likely to expect them to opt for free public schools or less expensive private schools.”Sylvie Froger, Founder and Director of UK-based Simply London Relocation affirmed this, “British schools offer education in the worldwide language of English so they remain a costly but safe investment for our clients. To mitigate rising costs for parents, we see boarding schools increasingly offer part-time boarding to international students and we also see many families opting for outstanding state (free) schools instead of private schools, for cost reasons.”Luxembourg sets itself up as one of the more welcoming central European destinations for expatriates with families, with one of the lowest international education costs in the survey (US$4,408 per annum) for world-class education. This is in stark contrast to the relatively high cost of living in the small state. “The main problem in Luxembourg is the limited spaces in schools, which means that some people might not accept their assignments. The waiting lists are long and some grades are already fully booked in February. Yet one respite is international schools can keep lower fees as they continue to receive state subsidies for students at up to 40 per cent of their tuition fees,” said Stephane Compain, Business Advisor at LuxRelo, a relocation company based in Luxembourg.

International Guide to Education & Schools 2017
Find out more the growing international schools market in the Relocate Guide to International Education & Schools. ***2018 edition coming soon!***

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