ESF: What next?

The English Schools Foundation is the largest provider of English language education in Hong Kong, operating 14 partially government funded and two private independent schools.

ESF schools are NOT international schools

While ESF schools do offer an international curriculum, which is not that stipulated by our local Education Bureau (EDB), ESF schools are not international schools. In fact, ESF schools are their own category of schools.

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Entry into an ESF primary school is NOT guaranteed

It is unwise to rely on getting into an ESF school. Even students earning priority by any means (alumni, sibling, kindergarten students) are not guaranteed a spot in a primary school. While it is unusual for priority applicants not to get in, it is becoming more common for regular applicants to be placed on a waiting list for an interview. So, it pays to put in several applications to different schools.

The Subvention

ESF’s funding, known as a ‘subvention’ – frozen for the last ten years – has meant that the fees are substantially less than most international, independent or private schools. For 2013/14, primary fees are HK$70,000/year.

In July 2013, ESF accepted the government’s proposal to phase out the subvention.

What does it mean?

Existing students are protected, as are those entering for the next three years. From August 2016, new Year 1 students will pay a higher fee to cover the loss of the subvention. This applies to babies born in 2011 and later. Those born in 2010 will be the last cohort to enter ESF primary at the subvented rate. The subvention is roughly HK$18,000/student a year at primary and HK$24,000/student a year at secondary.

What will it cost?

The projected increase in the ESF fees for 2016 at the moment is 23%. With annual tuition fees increasing at the rate of 4-6% every year, our projected fee for a 2011 born child entering Year 1 in 2016 is approximately HK$97,000.

This is still substantially less than most international schools, made possible by the introduction of corporate debentures (HK$5M) and the existing Nomination Right (HK$500,000). The idea is to ”raise significant sums from a small number.”

Are all ESF schools affected?

No. The subvention for the Jockey Club Sarah Roe School remains in place at the current level for now and none of this applies to the two private independent schools run by ESF’s ESL Education Services – Renaissance College and Discovery College.

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