In a letter to parents ESF's Chief Executive Belinda Greer said that fees were increasing to take into account "competitive salary levels" and to ensure the ESF is "attracting and retaining a team of high-quality teachers".
The ESF has more than 18,000 students enrolled in its 22 schools. It increased fees by an average of 2.9% for the 2022-23 academic year, following a two-year freeze during the pandemic. This year sees a much higher increase in fees, although the ESF will incorporate various compulsory charges into the fees, such as stationery and software, meaning that the actual annual increase is an average 4.9%.
For the 2023-24 academic year, fees for primary school students in Years 1-6 will rise by HKD 7,100 from HKD 119,100 to HKD 126,200.
Year 8 sees the largest fee increase of HKD 29,500. This above-average increase is due to the loss of ESF's annual HKD 283 million subsidy from the government, which started being phased out seven years ago and will last for a period of 13 years. While the government subvention continues for all students in Years 9 to 13 in 2023-24, a new fee structure now applies to all students in Years 1-8. For families moving from Year 7 to Year 8, however, this will mean an increase of HKD 7,800.
All ESF schools have the same fee structure, and they have always had a reputation for being considerably cheaper than most international schools in Hong Kong. The group typically increases its fees an average of 4.5% every academic year.
Fees at some other international schools across Hong Kong are also expected to increase, subject to approval from the Education Bureau; international school fees typically rise by 3-9%.
Announcing the fee increase to parents, Ms Greer said:
"We want to continue to attract the world’s best teachers to ESF as we know that they will be the ones who make the biggest difference to our students. It was with this in mind that the Board evaluated our budget for the coming year.
"In order to allow us to continue to invest in our people, the Board has approved an average fee increase for ESF Schools of 5.8% for the coming year. This level, however, includes a significant change in how we bill parents for compulsory charges during the academic year.
"At present, throughout the year, you are issued with invoices for items that are mandatory for all students. This covers areas such as software licences, stationery kits and activity fees. Starting from August 2023, these compulsory charges will be absorbed into your fees and there will be no separate charges levied for them.
"When this incorporation of the compulsory charges into fees is taken into account, the actual rate of annual increase is around 4.9%."
Tuition fees in Years 1-6 at ESF’s primary schools will rise from HKD 119,100 to HKD 126,200. This applies to Kowloon Junior, Beacon Hill, Sha Tin Junior, Bradbury, Peak School, Glenealy School, Clearwater Bay, Quarry Bay and Kennedy schools.
At secondary schools including Sha Tin College, South Island School, King George V, West Island School, and Island School, the fees for Years 7-8 will be HKD 167,100.
Years 9 to 11 will be HKD 145,400, up from this year's fee of HKD 137,600.
Families of students studying the IBDP in Years 12 and 13 will pay HKD 152,900, up from HKD 144,700.