Dec 142017
Many expatriate parents want to provide their children with a British boarding experience for at least part of their school career. The schools are also popular with Hong Kong families as seen at the British Boarding Schools Fair, organised by Britannia StudyLink and held in November but it is an expensive option. The 2016 Independent Schools Council (ISC) annual census revealed that the average boarding fees per term for pupils at ISC-member senior boarding schools was 10,217 (US$13,600). Factor in flights, extras and pocket money, and parents could be looking at a bill of nearly 50,000 a year. It was not always so costly, even factoring in inflation: in 1890, public schools were charging between 20 and 40 a year which for a professional on an average salary, at the time, of 800 to 900 represented less than 5 per cent of their annual earnings. If it cost 5 per cent of a salary today, you would be earning more than 500,000 a year. It was only after 1950 that school fees began to spiral. From 1974, fees doubled in three years, and between 2000 and 2006 they rose by 40 per cent. For many parents, British boarding school fees are only affordable because the schools are generous. There are more than half a million children currently studying at ISC schools in Britain. Of those, 33.2 per cent receive some fee assistance in the shape of a scholarship or a bursary (at a total annual cost to schools of more than 550 million). So as Ralph Lucas, editor-in-chief of The Good Schools Guide, observes, theres no cause for shyness.

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