You’ll be hard pressed to find an employer who’s incentive package includes the costs for schooling, as most expats these days have to pay out of pocket to ensure their children get a proper education.
Yet, while most countries have various options like Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong is in a particularly difficult position in regards to offering international schools due to the absence of available land to build new structures for school at an affordable price, thus, leaving many foreign workers in a tough position.
The problem is that while most expats are able to pay the fees for international schools, there simply isn’t any room to receive more students and many waiting lists are already stretched to at least three years, which could have serious repercussions in setting your child’s education back. The issue is so severe that parents are even submitting the names of their unborn children, by submitting ultrasound results, to get on waiting lists as early as possible – though, this is a special case and as of now only one school is known to be doing this in Hong Kong.
Another concern on the horizon for parents who must pay for their child’s education without special packages from their employers, is that Hong Kong’s English Schools Foundation, a total of 21 schools, will no longer receive government subsidies after August 2016. This recent announcement will inflict considerable financial burdens upon expats as costs for ESF international schools are expected to drastically rise.
What separates ESF schools from other international schools is that is has received government subsidies since its founding in 1967, which such subsidies covered expenses for construction and maintenance of buildings, while also ensuring teachers were paid well and tuition fees were controlled. At the moment the fees for 1st grade to 6th are $8,586.10, 7th to 11th grade $12,642, and grade 12 to 13, $13,158. Now with the expected lack of subsidies, fees are expected to rise to $10,488 for grades one through six, which will also decrease the margin between ESF schools and other international schools, thus, opening up more options for competition in the market.
There have even been a few cases where families have paid at least $50,000 in order to receive priority on a waiting list, along with the option to choose which school they’d prefer. However, most don’t have this luxury and smart saving, along with investing, is the only way parents can expect to afford the rising costs of getting their child the education they want from an international school.
For those families planning on living and working in Hong Kong long term, planning well ahead of time, even prior to having a child, is an absolute must, as tuition costs in the financial hub are among the seventh most expensive in the world at around $22,000 a year with tuition and living expenses.
That, in contrast with Germany, which has the lowest fees at around $6,000 a year, tuition and living expenses included.
And in the other Hong Kong still costs less than Dubai with over $27,000 a year!
Bottom line, an expat family must take into careful consideration education fees and plan far in advance if their employers do not include any compensation or benefits for their children; otherwise, rising costs and negate many benefits of employer packages which would otherwise be manageable for a single person, or married couple, without children.