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Despite the rising cost of private schools, demand continues to grow across the world. For many, private schooling buys luxury, exclusivity and privacy. In many developing countries, private education is a must-have for parents who want their children to succeed.
Across the world, the cost of private education has risen faster than incomes. In the U.S., private high schools cost over $40,000, compared to a median income of around $50,000. In the U.K., boarding school fees jumped 65 percent from 1992 to 2008, while household incomes increased only 30 percent over the same period, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
We’ve put together a list of the countries with the most expensive private schools based on the cost of sending a child to one of the top three or four private schools in that country.
We used annual tuition fees for high school students for both day and boarding schools. Since boarding is often the more expensive option, we ranked the countries by boarding fees, except in the cases of China and Brazil.
The fees we considered include boarding, food and basic curriculum costs, but exclude charges such as registration fees, deposits, extra-curricular activities and field trips. We also excluded schools that specialized in children with special needs.
Click ahead to find out which countries have the world’s most expensive private schools.
By Posted: June 19, 2011
Most Expensive: Hilton College
Annual Tuition: $25,614
Students in Private School: 2.5%
South Africa has a long tradition of all-boys boarding schools that were established in the 1800s by Dutch and British missionaries. But only 2.5 percent of South African students were enrolled in private schools, as of 2007.
Founded in 1872, Hilton College (pictured) is South Africa’s most expensive private boarding school. Located in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the school has about 400 students and sits on a 17 square-kilometer property.
Hilton is part of a group of private South African schools referred to as the "Elite 7." Schools in the group include Diocesan College, Michaelhouse, St. Stithians College, St. Andrews College, Kearseny College, and St. John’s College.
The average annual boarding fee is around $20,000 for most of these schools. A strong emphasis is placed on sports competition among the schools, with Hilton’s website listing over 15 different sports programs.
Most Expensive: Yew Chung International School of Shanghai
Annual Tuition: $34,407*
Students in Private School: NA
The business of international schooling in China is booming. The country’s private education market is expected to grow to nearly $80 billion by 2012 from $60 billion in 2009, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The World Bank says the number of private schools in China rose 134 percent from 29,964 to 70,256 between 1997 and 2003. Over the same period, the number of private school students increased 273 percent to 14.16 million, but that’s still just a tiny fraction of the population.
Yew Chung International School (YCIS) in Shanghai is the most expensive school in China. The day school has four campuses with two dedicated to junior schools. The Hong Kong based organization with 5,000 students also has schools in Beijing, Chongqing, Qingdao and Silicon Valley, California.
Beijing and Shanghai have nearly half a dozen international schools that charge over $30,000 in annual tuition fees. In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong International School is the most expensive at $21,273 per year. Several other international schools in Hong Kong charge over $15,000.
* Annual fees for day school
Most Expensive: Ermitage International School of France
Annual Tuition: $39,388
Students in Private School: 15%
About 15 percent of students in France attend private schools. The most expensive institutions are ones that offer education in French and English, along with the International Baccalaureate program.
Ermitage International School of France is the most expensive boarding school in the country. Founded in 1941, the school is located in the north-central town of Maisons-Laffitte — about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Paris. Ermitage offers bilingual education for over 1,000 students, and day school costs over $20,000 annually.
In the capital, the International School of Paris is the only English-speaking school within the city and day school costs over $36,000 per year. Outside Paris, the British School of Paris, situated near Versailles, charges over $33,000 for day school.
Most Expensive: American International School of Sao Paulo
Annual Tuition: $39,419
Students in Private Schools: NA
The demand for private school education in Brazil has been rising with the increase in the number of rich and super wealthy. In 2010, for example, there were 30 billionaires in Brazil — up 60 percent from the year before, according to Forbes magazine.
Brazil's most expensive school is located in Sao Paulo (pictured), which is Latin America's second largest city. The day school known as "Graded" or the American International School was founded in 1920. It has a 16-acre campus with has 1,200 students including members of its junior and middle schools.
International schools, mainly those with U.S. curricula such as American School of Rio de Janeiro and the American School of Brasilia, are the next most expensive private schools in Brazil, with annual tuition costs of about $30,000.
* Annual fees for day school
Most Expensive: United World College Southeast Asia
Annual Tuition: $45,847
Students in Private School: 20%
Despite its small population of five million people, and a great public school system, Singapore has 1,000 private schools including 30 international schools. Nearly one in five students or around 100,000 attend private schools in the city-state.
However, since Singaporeans cannot send their children to private schools without approval from the government, most private school students are the children of expatriates or foreign-born permanent residents.
United World College (UWCSEA) is the most expensive boarding school in Singapore. The school has two campuses in the island-nation with over 3,800 students. It expects to expand in order to cater to over 5,000 students by 2015. While the boarding option costs over $45,000, day school tuition fees come to about $22,000.
In terms of non-boarding schools, Tanglin Trust is the most expensive in Singapore with tuition fees of $27,869 per year. Founded in 1925, the British school teaches students from ages three to 18.
Most Expensive: Lawrence Academy
Annual Tuition: $50,375
Students in Private School: 10%
In total, the U.S. has over 33,300 private schools, which account for about 25 percent of all schools in the country. About 5.5 million or 10 percent of all students attend private schools, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The most elite and prestigious private high schools in the U.S., also known as "prep schools," are located on the east coast. The long tradition of east coast education goes back to 1642, when Massachusetts Bay Colony became the first colony to make formal education mandatory.
Located in Groton, Massachusetts, Lawrence Academy is currently the most expensive private high school in the U.S. Day school tuition costs around $38,770. Founded in 1793, the co-educational school is the third oldest boarding school in the state. The Lawrence Academy campus sits on 100 acres, and is close to the third most expensive school in the U.S., called Groton. One of Groton’s most famous graduates is former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Coming in a close second to Lawrence Academy is the Dana Hall — an all-girls boarding and day school located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where boarding tuition costs up to $49,620 per year.
Most Expensive: Geelong Grammar School
Annual Tuition: $53,028
Students in Private School: 34%
More than one in three students attend private schools in Australia.
Over the past ten years, the number of students in private schools has increased by over 20 percent compared to an only one percent increase in students attending public schools, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Unlike most other countries, private schools in Australia also receive funding from the state and federal governments.
Victoria’s Geelong Grammar School is the most expensive private school in the country. With five campuses located in the southwestern part of the state, the school’s full-day program costs $31,284. The school was founded in 1855, and its notable alumni include media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and Prince Charles, who studied two terms at the school.
Most Expensive: Appleby College
Annual Tuition: $54,087
Students in Private School: 6% - 8%
Only an estimated six to eight percent of Canadians attend private schools, with the majority attending public schools funded by the government.
Canada’s most expensive private school is Appleby College. Day tuition at the school costs $36,102 per year, while boarding costs over $54,000.
Located in Oakville, Ontario — about 30 minutes outside of Toronto — Appleby College was founded in 1911 by John Guest, a former headmaster of the renowned Upper Canada College (UCC). UCC is the oldest independent school in the province and is the second most expensive school in Canada with an annual boarding cost of $52,379.
UCC is also the wealthiest independent school in Canada with an endowment of over $49 million.
Most Expensive: Hurtwood House
Annual Tuition: $54,928
Students in Private School: 6.5%
The U.K. has a very long tradition of private schools that dates back to the 600s. According to the Independent School Council census, about 6.5 percent of students attend private schools in the U.K.
The country has about 2,600 private schools, which ironically are referred to as "public schools" even though they are independent and don’t receive funding from the government.
Among the most famous private schools in England are the "Clarendon Schools," which consist of nine institutions that were considered to have the best education systems dating back to the 1800s. Several private schools around the world are modeled after Eton College and Harrow, where boarding fees cost over $48,000 per year.
Hurtwood House is the most expensive private high school in Britain. As of the 2011-2012 academic year, it costs $18,500 to send your child for one term to the school. The co-educational boarding school is located in Surrey, England, and was founded in 1970 by the current headmaster Richard Jackson. Renowned for its theatre and media curriculums, the main school is an Edwardian mansion set in 200 acres in the Surrey Hills.
Relatively new in comparison to England’s long list of prestigious private schools, Hurtwood House was ranked second in the country for adding the most value to student education in 2010.
Most Expensive: Le Rosey
Annual Tuition: $113,000
Students in Private School: NA
Switzerland is home to 10 of the world’s most expensive private schools - all set in and around the Swiss Alps. About 100,000 students attend private school in Switzerland, according to the Swiss Federation of Private Schools and the top three boarding schools cost over $100,000 a year.
Le Rosey, also referred to the "School of Kings," is one of the most prestigious private schools in the world. Founded in 1880, its Switzerland’s oldest and largest boarding school with 28 hectares of land. Generally, only one in three candidates are accepted to the school that operates on a national quota system, where no more than 10 percent of students can be from one country or group of countries with the same dominant language.
Facilities at the school include 10 tennis courts, an open-air theatre, circus tent, shooting and archery ranges to name a few.
Some of Le Rosey’s famous students include the Aga Khan, King Albert II of Belgium, Prince Rainier of Monaco, as well as other European, and Middle Eastern royal family members. Children of movie stars, rock stars, and American business tycoons have also been Le Rosey alumni.