A new report shows that expat workers in Singapore could pay more than $409,000 in tuition over the course of their child’s education, making Singapore one of the most expensive places to attend an international school.
In 2015, the average tuition for international schools in Singapore came to $19,270 for each of the pre-preparatory years, $21,380 for preparatory school, and $24,770 for senior school. These are the second-most expensive international schools globally after the UK.
Five nearby Asian nations that were surveyed for comparison were found to have more affordable schools. Malaysia was the cheapest with an average of $16,360 for 2015, with Thailand ($16,500) and Indonesia ($20,400) next in the running.
Hong Kong, which is often regarded as an expensive destination because of the price of rent and real estate, has school fees that are 6.4% lower than Singapore’s. However, despite skyrocketing tuition, Singapore was rated most affordable out of nearby countries because its average wage is higher, writes Ann Williams of the Straits Times.
The report, entitled “International school tuition fees in Singapore and beyond,” was commissioned by the Fry Group, a financial advisory firm, and was written by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) which is based in London.
Not only was Singapore found to be expensive, but the report’s writers predict that its educational costs will continue to grow based on current trends. They expect annual fees to come to 52.3% more in 2020 than in 2010, writes Aza Wee Sile of CNBC. The price has already risen 23.2% over the last five years.
Channel News Asia quoted Nina Skero, an economist at CEBR, about the causes driving the perpetual increase:
The increase in fees is partially explained by higher levels of spending on educational facilities and pursuit of academic excellence. International schools in Singapore have some of the world’s most modern facilities and consistently achieve outstanding academic results.
She also noted that these numbers often don’t accurately reflect the cost of a child’s education because of hidden expenses.
On top of regular school fees, there are additional costs like books, mandatory school trips, school meals, extracurricular activities and fees for standardized exams.
The report also noted that employers are now seldom offering salary packages that include tuition for their children. According to Chong Koh Ping of the Straits Times, it used to be common practice for employers to give expats allowances for expenses like education, rent, and transportation. Now this is almost never done, and employees are given a lump sum instead.
Of course, there are options for workers in Singapore who have trouble fitting education into their budget. More affordable international schools are available, and local schools cost about a fifth of what an international school charges.