Reality Check: The Cost of Private Education is High in Singapore

The most expensive in all of Asia

‘Private education in Singapore is a bit of a nightmare for expatriates.’ A recent report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research has shown. Apparently, the total amount of tuition fees needed for an expatriate is well over $500,000. In fact, Singapore has the highest average annual tuition fees for international schools in all of Asia.

A look at the average tuition fee in 2015 of one international school based in Singapore, revealed that parents would pay $35,100 per year for senior school, $30,300 per year for preparatory and $27,300 per year for pre-preparatory. Therefore, a student who goes through any of these international schools in 2015 will have paid a total of $589,900 in tuition fees alone, from pre-prep to senior school.


And it’s getting more expensive

A report from Fry Group, a financial advisory firm based in Singapore further showed that more than any other product or service, private education costs have been on a faster upward trend. In fact, in the past five years, the cost of educating a student all the way through to senior school in an international school was found to have increased by 23.3%, up from $479,100. The last three years have shown a sharper increase that goes far above the general inflation level.

These sharp increases have also affected the average boarding fees in these schools. In 2010, the average boarding fees was set at $50,900 but that shot up by $10,500 in 2015 to stand at $61,400 per student.

If this trend continues, by 2020 the annual amount of fees that would be required in an international school per year, would rise by 52.3% from 2010. This is based on a forecast of a 4% annual increase in tuition fees, which would result in parents paying tuition fees of $42,900 per year for senior school, $37,600 per year for preparatory and $34,000 per year in pre-prep. Boarding fees are also expected to rise to an average of $75,200 by 2020.


Affordable for the chosen few

While these fees are considered relatively affordable given the high wages in Singapore, this is only true for children of lawyers, company directors and university lecturers who spend between 25% and 33% of their annuals earnings on these school fees. Medical practitioners found the fees most affordable, using only about 13.3% of their net wages to cover the fees. However, engineers and accountants were found to use more than 50% of their net earnings to cover these school fees.

These high costs of international schools in Singapore are attributed to their state-of-the-art facilities and consistent outstanding results which encourages expatriates to keep taking their children there.