The Real Cost of Thailand's International Schools

What is the cost of schooling at Thailand’s international primary and secondary schools? Here we look at the sliding scale of tuition fees, as well as additional costs including application, enrolment and campus fees, contributions to the parents’ association, extra-curricular activities, exams and school lunches.
The Real Cost of Thailand's International Schools
By Carli Allan
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Fees at Thailand’s international schools vary greatly, with annual tuition fees ranging from THB 150,000 to THB 900,000 at Bangkok’s top tier schools. While the cost of an international education is expensive for many Thai nationals, it’s considerably cheaper than schooling in Europe and other parts of Asia – and the relatively low cost of an international education in Thailand has made the country a popular destination for expat students in the past two decades.

A report by The Fry Group examined international school fees across Asia –Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia – as well as the UK. It found that Thai international school fees are among the lowest – 21.7% cheaper than Singapore. The Centre for Economic & Business Research (CEBR) has reported that the average cost of an education in Thailand is THB 550,000, which is lower than school fees in neighbouring Asian countries.

In a 2017 study by ExpatFinder of international school fees across 98 countries, Thailand’s Bangkok Patana School was ranked second in the top five most expensive schools in the Asia Pacific. All-inclusive annual fees here are roughly THB 1.5 million. The study, which looked at both private and Thai international schools, also ranked Thailand’s Global English School in Nonthaburi in the top five most affordable schools. Annual fees at this private Christian Thai school are just THB 16,500.

While it’s encouraging to see how Thailand compares to other countries, there’s more value in knowing exactly what you’re going to pay for – and why. Here we look at which international schools in Thailand charge the highest (and lowest) tuition fees, and break down the overall cost of an education at primary and secondary levels.

 

Tuition fees: international

Thailand’s wide variety of international schools include a mixture of non-profits and profit-making schools run by independents and global education groups. Tuition fees at International Baccalaureate (IB) schools tend to be considerably higher, which makes sense. The IB demands more teachers per pupil. It is more resource intensive in general than any other curricula, particularly compared to A' Level against the IB Diploma with more subjects taught. Indian curricula (CBSE and ICSE) by contrast are, in general, less resource intensive, and most accommodating to larger classroom sizes and to teachers coming from regions where salaries (in global currency terms) are lower.

There is a huge difference in fees, depending on the type of school. There are plenty of new state-of-the art schools with Olympic-sized swimming pools, sporting academies, ultra-modern arts centres and trendsetting STEAM facilities – but this all comes at a price. There are no ‘affordable’ international schools as such in Thailand, but you will find that schools with older, smaller campuses and basic facilities will be cheaper. Fees are much lower at Thailand’s many Christian schools – many of which follow the Seventh-day Adventist Church education system and have a largely Thai student population and teaching staff. Tuition fees at Singaporean and Chinese schools are also low. 

Primary tuition fees for Year 1 range from THB 67,000 at Glory International School to THB 805,700 at International School Bangkok. The average cost is THB 320,000. 

Primary schools with fees of between THB 200,000 - 300,000 for Year 1 include:
• Bloomsbury International School Hatyai
• Grace International School
• International School of Chonburi
• Kajonkiet International School Phuket
• Lycée Français International de Bangkok
• Mooltripakdee International School
• Nakornpayap International School
• Niva International School
• Palm House International School
• St. Stephen's International School
• Udon Thani International School

Primary schools with fees of more than THB 500,000 for Year 1 include:

• Bangkok Patana School
• Berkeley International School
• Brighton College 
• British International School, Phuket
• Concordian International School
• Harrow International School, Bangkok
• International School Bangkok
• KIS International School
• NIST International School
• Rugby School Thailand
• Ruamrudee International School
• Shrewsbury International School (Riverside)
• St. Andrews International School (Sathorn)
• St. Andrews International School (Sukhumvit 107)
• United World College Thailand

Secondary tuition fees for Year 7 range from around THB 8,100 at Adventist International Mission School to THB 904,000 at International School Bangkok. The average cost is THB 385,000. This rises to an average of THB 456,000 for college, Years 12 and 13.

Secondary schools with fees of between THB 300,000 - 400,000 for Year 7 include:

• Bloomsbury International School Hatyai
• Chiang Mai International School
• Garden International School Bangkok
• HeadStart International School
• Kajonkiet International School Phuket
• Keerapat International School
• Nakornpayap International School
• Silver Fern International School
• Traill International School
• Wells International School (On Nut) 

Secondary schools with fees of more than THB 600,000 for Year 7 include:

• Bangkok Patana School
• Brighton College 
• British International School, Phuket
• Concordian International School
• Harrow International School, Bangkok
• International School Bangkok
• KIS International School
• NIST International School
• Regents International School Pattaya
• Ruamrudee International School
• Shrewsbury International School (Riverside)
• The Regent's School Bangkok
• The Regent's School (Rama 9)
• United World College Thailand

 

Campus development fee

Families of students at most international schools are required to pay a campus development fee, also known as an enrolment fee. This is typically an annual charge that contributes to the school’s ongoing building and maintenance costs.

Most schools offer the option of paying a one-off, refundable payment or a lower annual payment that is non-refundable and due at the start of every academic year. One-off campus development fees range a great deal – THB 120,000 at St Andrews International School Bangkok, THB 400,000 at Concordian International School, and THB 575,00 at NIST International School. Annual payments tend to be around THB 40,000 - 55,000.

Due to the varying amount of the building fund fee, it is definitely worth checking your school’s fee structure to avoid any last-minute surprises.

 

Mandatory charges

There are many other refundable and non-refundable charges that international schools often levy, which can make a significant increase to the overall cost of an education. While your employer may cover the cost of tuition fees, you may be left to foot the bill for costs such as lunch, books, uniform, technology, etc. 

In addition to the tuition fees and campus development fee, be prepared to pay for the following throughout the school year:


• Application fees – this is a non-refundable fee of approx. THB 4,000-6,000 
• Assessment fee – some selective schools will charge around THB 2,500 for an assessment test
• Registration or admission fee – charged when you accept a school place, this one-off, non-refundable fee ranges from THB 55,000 up to as much as THB 260,000 at some top-tier schools
• Security deposit – a refundable amount of THB 100,000 – 200,000 may be charged upon acceptance of a school place

• Meal fees – while this can be a compulsory fee at some schools, others will offer an optional meal plan. Charges range from THB 8,000 - 10,000 per term. Schools such as Harrow and Shrewsbury include meals as part of the tuition fee

• Uniform – while the basic school uniform may be quite inexpensive, when you add on the compulsory extras such as PE kits, house t-shirts, school swim kit and branded towels, school goggles, branded bags, approved shoes, trainers, football boots, lunchboxes, water bottles, hats, and winter/summer uniforms it all adds up. So, budget for around THB 2,500-3,500
• Many secondary schools operate a 1:1 technology programme, so you’ll need to budget for the cost of an iPad or laptop 

• School trips –  field trips and overnight camps are the norm for many schools, while older children are given a taste of global travel with expeditions and charity fundraisers across South East Asia

• Exam fees – expect to pay anywhere up to THB 36,000 for each set of IGCSE and IB exams

• Learning support fees are roughly THB 50,000 per year

• Books 
• Graduation fees 

• PTA – you may be asked to make a contribution of approximately THB 500 

Check your school’s fee structure as some of these costs may be included within the tuition fees, if you’re lucky. 

 

Optional charges

While these charges are not compulsory, you may want to budget for extras such as school dinners and extra-curricular activities:


• School transport – an essential service for many parents in Thailand, a bus service will cost around THB 30,000 - 110,000 per term

• Additional language lessons, ranging from THB 30,000 - 130,000 per year

• Extra-curricular activities – although these are often provided free of charge by the school, some activities are ‘paid for’ services from outside agencies 
• Individual music lessons
• Boarding fees – parents have a choice of day, weekly and termly boarding options at several international schools in Thailand

 

Sibling discounts

Many schools will offer discounts for siblings, occasionally for the second child but more commonly for the third child onwards.

 

Scholarships

A large number of international schools offer scholarships to students who show outstanding talent in various disciplines – academic, art, sport, music and drama. Students typically receive a monetary award, which can be as high as 100% payment of tuition and/or boarding fees. Most schools only offer scholarships to senior students, from Year 10 upwards. Schools including Regent's International School Bangkok and Harrow International School Bangkok offer very comprehensive scholarship programmes.

You’ll also find scholarships are available at:

• Bromsgrove
• Shrewsbury
• KIS
• British International School, Phuket
• Wells International School
• Concordian International School
• ISB

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