Only about one in five of Hong Kong’s international, private and semi-private schools will increase tuition fees this academic year amid an economic downturn made worse by Covid-19, but three are raising their rates by more than 10 per cent.
The Education Bureau revealed on Thursday that 45 schools had applied for and received permission to raise fees in 2020-21, a sharp drop from 179 the year before.
Ten of the city’s 53 international schools, and 12 of its 80 private ones are raising fees this year, as will 23 of 71 direct subsidy scheme schools – semi-private institutions that receive government money.
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Most schools that applied are raising fees by 10 per cent or less. The average increase across international and private schools is 5.3 and 8.6 per cent, respectively, but three are pushing up fees by more than 10 per cent.
For non-subsidised institutions, parents must sometimes bear other costs as well, such as capital levies and debentures charged for purposes such as school development.
The bureau for the first time required schools to seek government approval for such fees, which can reach millions of Hong Kong dollars, but a spokeswoman was unable to provide a breakdown of figures for all institutions.
The bureau only said 46 schools had sought approval for ancillary fees by September, with 38 receiving the go-ahead and one denied. The remaining seven applications were pending.
At the private Pooi To Primary School in Kowloon City’s Ma Tau Wai, tuition fees were raised to HK$48,060 this year, up from HK$45,770, an increase of about 5 per cent.
At Lam Tai Fai College in Sha Tin, annual fees for Form One pupils jumped by more than 21 per cent, from HK$27,130 to HK$33,000, while those for pupils in Form Two to Five increased by about 4 per cent, to HK$28,320.
Several international schools, including Lantau International School and Think International School, also raised fees by between 4 per cent and 6 per cent.
At Chinese International School, one of the priciest in the city, tuition fees are up by about 2 per cent, with parents of pupils at primary and secondary levels paying between HK$222,300 and HK$266,100.
International, private and direct subsidy scheme schools typically submit their fee adjustment applications by April each year, but many earlier told the Post they expected to keep charges the same due to the widespread financial pressure families were facing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some schools have offered a cut in tuition fees or rolled out additional subsidies for families in need. The English Schools Foundation, the city’s biggest international school group, made a 45 per cent reduction in fees in June.
Ruth Benny, founder of education consultancy Top Schools, said parents appreciated that most schools had frozen tuition fees, but it remained to be seen whether more would be applying for an increase next year.
“Parents would certainly hope that schools would not seek to recover any lost income by increasing fees like twofold in the following year,” Benny said. “That would be unreasonable.”
Editor’s note: The original version of this story stated that Pooi To Primary School increased its tuition fee by almost 12 per cent. But the school and Education Bureau later clarified that the HK$43,000 fee cited in the official Primary School Profiles 2019 document was inaccurate. The school fee last year was HK$45,770, meaning an increase of about 5 per cent.
More from South China Morning Post:
- HK$180 million in subsidies help Hong Kong international schools save jobs during pandemic, but parents appeal for fee discounts
- Hong Kong’s subsidised kindergartens have tuition fee increases approved as some feel financial squeeze of coronavirus
- Hong Kong’s direct subsidy scheme schools split on tuition for next year as parents struggle amid Covid-19 downturn
This article Tuition fees rise at one in five private and semi-private schools in Hong Kong first appeared on South China Morning Post