UK Expat Children: Education Back Home Or Internationally?

Is it better to send expat children back to the UK for their education or use an international school? Make an informed choice with these price guidelines

A report by FXcompared looks at the prices of UK boarding schools and compares them to other similar schools internationally

According to the 2015 survey of 1,267 independent schools by the Independent Schools Council, there were 27,211 foreign students whose parents live overseas, accounting for 5.3% of the total student body. Of these, the vast majority - 92% - board. There were a further 4,175 British boarders whose parents live overseas.

Over two-fifths of boarders are in sixth form. The weighted average yearly fee in 2014/15 for sixth form boarding was £32,169, and £29,685 for years 7 to 11. This compares to average fees of £15,100 and £14,000 respectively for private day schools. Some schools charge higher fees for overseas students, with premiums ranging from 8-25%.

The research shows that boarding school fees at the top 100 fee-paying schools in the UK range from £16,000 to nearly £40,000 a year (Hurtwood House, Dorking), averaging just under £31,000. Eton’s price for boarders is £34,461 per year.

Some schools charge a premium for international students, pushing the highest annual fee to £45,000 (Hurtwood House, Dorking)

For British expats living/working abroad, a major decision is whether to send children to boarding school in the UK or to a local or international school in their new home

Private school fees in the US range from around £13,000 to £32,000. International schools in popular expat locations such as New York, Washington DC or Boston cost around £21,000 per year.

Fees at British international schools in other popular expat countries range considerably, from around £11,000 per year in Canada and the UAE, to £16,000 in Hong Kong, £18,000 in Singapore, and £22,000 in Switzerland. The average day school fee in the UK according to ISC is around £15,000 per year.

FXcompared say that using only traditional bank methods to pay UK school fees from overseas accounts can add a cost of up to £30m per year - around £1,009 per pupil per year – due to the poor exchange rates and fees. That’s a return flight home once a year.

Using specialist currency brokers could save parents the equivalent of £1,009 per student per year, which for a student who boards from years four to 13 would mean a saving of £10,081; equivalent to the cost of a full term at the school.

 

Assumptions:

  • Payments made in two instalments per year (some schools offer three payments which would make the savings even more as smaller amounts have worse exchange rates and as well as the additional fees from a third payment).
  • No additional costs for school trips, uniforms, supplies etc., just boarding cost.
  • Difference between bank and broker rates and fees based on independent research conducted by FXcompared Intelligence of UK, US, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand banks and the leading currency brokers in June 2015,

 

FXcompared Intelligence independently collected data from each of the top 100 UK boarding schools, top 50 US schools and 60 other leading international schools in Switzerland, Australia, Canada, France, UAE, Germany, USA, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Data for bank rates and fees and broker rates for currency exchange come from FXcompared Intelligence’s own independent research of banks in UK, Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand (as of June 2015) as well as 27 brokers worldwide.

The ISC 2015 report was also reviewed for high-level data on the UK.

 

Total Number of UK Boarders

Years

Total Number Boarders

Average Cost Per Year

Total Cost

Junior, Years 1-6

3,435

£21,861

£75,092,535

Senior, Years 7-11

36,978

£29,685

£1,097,691,930

Sixth Form, Years 12-13

30,229

£32,169

£972,436,701

Total Boarders (domestic & international)

70,642

£30,369

£2,145,326,898

Source: ISC, FXcompared Intelligence

 

Market Size for International Boarders

Breakdown

Student Numbers

Cost per Year

Total Cost

Total International Students

27,211

   

Of which board

92%

   

International Boarders in the UK

25,034

   

+ UK Boarders with overseas parents

4,175

   

= Boarders funded from overseas

29,209

   

Average Boarders fee per year

 

£30,369

 

Total

   

£887,051,765

       

Plus…

     

Day school students funded from parents overseas

2,177

   

Average Day fee per year

 

£13,194

 

Total Day fees from overseas parents

   

£28,721,755

       

Total Overseas Students

   

£915,773,520

Source: ISC, FXcompared Intelligence

We estimate the total annual market size of school pupils from overseas is £915m as shown in the table above. The vast majority of the market is made up of international boarders who school in the UK.

 

Comparing UK Boarding to Overseas International Day Schools

Country

Boarding or Day

Annual Cost

Difference to Overseas Boarding Avg for UK

UK (Top 100)

Boarding- UK student

High

£39,555

 
   

Low

£16,150

 
   

Average

£30,772

£0

 

Boarding- overseas student

High

£45,488

 
   

Low

£16,150

 
   

Average

£31,112

 
         

US (Top 50)

Day

High

£31,636

-£523

   

Low

£12,501

£18,611

   

Average

£25,381

£5,731

         

US (Top 50)

Boarding

High

£39,806

-£8,694

   

Low

£22,103

£9,009

   

Average

£34,940

-£3,828

         
         

Selected Other Countries, Typical Costs of Day International Schools

     

Switzerland

Day

 

£21,071

£10,041

Singapore

Day

 

£18,716

£12,396

Hong Kong

Day

 

£15,756

£15,356

France

Day

 

£13,996

£17,116

Germany

Day

 

£12,266

£18,846

Australia

Day

 

£12,165

£18,947

UAE

Day

 

£11,548

£19,564

Canada

Day

 

£11,405

£19,707

Source: FXcompared Intelligence

Notes:

·         US schools include 50 top independent day and international schools

·         Other countries cover international schools

·         Where fees vary by school year, fees quoted are for sixth form