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How not to pay application/registration fees

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

In our consultations with parents, we discuss the 6Ps:

  • Your Preferences & Priorities as a family

  • Your child's Personality & Proficiency

  • Schools' Policies & Procedures

It is often this last pair where parents fall down if managing this themselves without expert support.

Parents would like to save the fees of using a consultancy, such as ours. Yet, ultimately, it can be an expensive mistake. Unfortunately, parents mistakenly believe that forfeited deposits and large, optional (unnecessary) debentures are just 'what you have to do'. We are here to tell you it most certainly is not. Managed correctly, you can save tens of thousands of dollars by working with expert admissions consultants.

In this article, we focus on application/registration fees and how not to pay too many of them.

In Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, admissions offices are unfortunately not often transparent. When a prospective parent calls in to enquire about places, the response is usually 'Send in your application.' Of course, these applications have an associated fee ranging from $1,000 to almost $4,000. This amount only covers the application; just some basic information on the children with school reports and a photo.

And, of course, some schools in Hong Kong accept applications from birth and in so doing, profit from parents' anxiety.

In the UK

The situation in the UK is quite different and much more honest and fair.

When a prospective parent calls in to enquire about places, the response is usually to request any initial test report (ie UKiSet) and the school reports. The admissions staff will look this over, chat to the parent about their child and if - and only if - they consider the child to be a potential good fit - will they request a formal application and fee. This means the parent may proceed with some level of confidence and the relationship with the school is off to a positive start.

Bragging Rights

In Hong Kong, the whole process seems to set the parents up for failure. It is often, in contrast to the UK, a very negative experience.

Some schools like to brag about the number of applications they receive. Yet, we know that the vast majority of these applications are from non-fit families. A non fit family is a family in which the child will not meet the school's minimum entry requirements, for whatever reason. One such reason is that the child's language proficiency is not up to par or they have some learning needs that cannot be supported. Some families like to 'just try', but it is costing them a fortune, not to mention the false hope and subsequent disappointment.

How not to pay

If you are considering a UK school, we advise you DO NOT simply submit an application. You should call/email the school and engage in some preliminary screening before you spend a not-insignificant £200-250 for each application.

If you prefer we contact the school on your behalf, we are very happy to do so without charge.

If you are in Hong Kong, do the same. Call and ask. If you receive an obtuse response, you can ask us to contact the school on your behalf by engaging us formally. Or you can vote with your feet and walk away. Choose a school that IS fair and transparent.

And, do NOT, under any circumstances submit an application without ever having interacted with the school in some way. Attend an Open Day or other admissions event. If your application arriving in the system is the school's first interaction with you, it is one of hundreds of bland, uninteresting and likely unsuccessful applications.


If you are considering a private school for your child in Hong Kong or the United Kingdom (or Singapore or Malaysia), please do get in touch for a complimentary Preliminary Admissions Consult (in English or Chinese) | Send us the form below today!


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