Where Expat Parents Pay The Most Expensive School Fees

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The rising cost of international schools is forcing many expats to consider home schooling and private tutors, according to a new survey.

Families in China are paying the most for a place at an international school – US$36,400 a year – which is almost a third more than the next most expensive countries.

Pupils at Swiss international schools pay $28,300 a year, while the cost is $27,800 in Belgium.

The research, by web site ExpatFinder, the rest of the top 10 most expensive places for expat schooling, all with fees of more than $20,000 a year are:

  • The UK
  • Hong Kong
  • USA
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Austria
  • Australia

Home schooling

The survey looked at the fees charged by more than 700 international schools. Charging the most was Switzerland’s Institut Le Rosey ($48,170 a year), while the cheapest was Colombia’s Colegio Anglo-Colombiano ($860 a year).

“We help parents identify schools that are best suited to the child, as factors may depend on the child’s personality, learning styles and cultural sensitivities,” said Stephen Park, Head of Global Mobility at Fonterra.

“Often, we find parents of younger children favour smaller and more intimate schools that are not necessarily the most expensive, but it depends on the child and how best to cater for their education.

“Given the rising costs of education and ability to access top schools in certain locations, we are noticing an increasing trend of short-term international assignments and commuting assignments where children remain at home.”

Assignments turned down

He explained some expats may turn down assignments in some cities due to the cost of placing children in good schools.

The annual report also revealed international school fees have risen by an average 3.43% compared with 2015.

The research also showed school fees in capital cities are often up to five times more expensive than other cities in the same country.

Pricing school fees can also lead to confusion – most schools charge admission, registration and application fees, but parents must add other costs, such as meals, uniforms, books, transport, exams, extra-curricular activities, elective subjects and boarding.

“Schooling costs are a major challenge for expats and HR departments trying to create competitive yet cost-effective benefits packages. Expats often have no choice but to pay expensive school fees as enrolling foreign children in the local education system becomes harder,” said Sean Collins, Managing Partner at Talent Mobility Search.

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