Hong Kong’s ESF school group to offer its 18,000 pupils a HK$1,600 relief grant after earlier revealing plans to raise fees

·3-min read

Hong Kong’s biggest international school group will give each of its more than 18,000 students a HK$1,600 (US$203) relief grant amid the “challenging times” of the Covid-19 pandemic after announcing a fee rise last month.

The English Schools Foundation (ESF), which runs 22 institutions, told parents in a letter on Thursday that it had decided to offer the grant to students, who can choose to accept it by May 16.

Hong Kong’s ESF school group to raise tuition fees for students

Parents with more than one child studying at an ESF campus can receive the grant for each student. The initiative was expected to cost nearly HK$29 million, the school group said.

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“We understand the continuing difficulties faced by parents and caregivers in Hong Kong due to Covid-19,” Vivian Cheung, the ESF’s chief financial officer, said in the letter.

“As part of our commitment to support families during this challenging time, we are offering a grant of HK$1,600 for each student which will be credited into the student fee account in June 2022 and included in the June 2022 statement.”

The ESF runs kindergartens and primary and secondary schools. Photo: ESF Tsing Yi International Kindergarten
The ESF runs kindergartens and primary and secondary schools. Photo: ESF Tsing Yi International Kindergarten

It is not the first time the ESF, which operates kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools, has provided such a grant. In April 2020, each student received a grant equal to 45 per cent of the monthly tuition fee.

One father of a K2 pupil enrolled in an ESF kindergarten said he had not expected the foundation to provide a grant and the amount was “better than nothing”.

“Basically it compensates for around one-week in tuition fees,” he said, noting that he paid HK$8,000 in monthly tuition fees.

The move came after the school announced last month it planned to raise tuition fees for most of its primary and secondary grades for the next academic year by about 3 per cent after a price freeze for two consecutive years.

The school group said the proposed increase was to ensure it could continue to attract and retain high-quality teachers.

It plans to raise annual fees by 2.9 per cent for Years One to Six at its primary schools, with prices potentially rising from HK$115,800 to HK$119,100.

For Year Seven pupils, fees will rise 19 per cent from HK$133,800 to HK$159,300, the biggest increase among all grades, to coincide with the end of government subsidies for ESF secondary students from 2022-23.

Hong Kong kindergartens run by ESF to resume in-person classes ahead of schedule

Government subsidies for the ESF’s junior and secondary schools are expected to be phased out from 2028-29.

For students in Years Eight to 11, fees will increase 2.9 per cent from HK$133,800 to HK$137,600. For Years 12 to 13, annual prices will rise 2.8 per cent from HK$140,700 to HK$144,700.

Fee increases for the two all-through private independent schools under the group, Discovery College and Renaissance College, range from 2 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

However, any increase in tuition fees for the 2022-23 school year will require final approval from the Education Bureau.

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