Subsidy schools look for fee hikes

Local | Maisy Mok 13 May 2021

The Education Bureau has received 27 applications from direct subsidy scheme schools for fee adjustments, while another 47 said they will freeze theirs for the coming school year.

Schools that operate under the direct subsidy scheme benefit from government funding, but enjoy autonomy in determining school fees.

In September, 23 direct subsidy scheme schools applied for fees' hikes, all of which were approved by the Education Bureau. The average hike was 3.68 percent.

"Usually, those that applied for an adjustment will apply for an increase for school fees," said Dion Chen, the chairman of the Hong Kong Direct Subsidy Scheme Schools Council.

Chen said the percentage increase for the number of schools that want to adjust their fees is considered "small," adding that one of the reasons why schools may increase fees is because teachers' salaries rises as their years of experience increase.

"Each year, regardless of whether a direct subsidy scheme school applied for an increase or a freeze of school fee, they have to go through a very careful process in dealing with it," Chen said.

He added that the pandemic, enrollment rates and government subsidy amounts are part of schools' considerations.

Several well-known DSS schools were found to have frozen their school fees, according to their upcoming school year's secondary one admission information. They include Diocesan Girls' School, St Paul's College and Ying Wa College.

Diocesan Boys' School, which has frozen its fees for the current school year, reported that it will increase the coming school year's fees by around 2.4 percent. Once approved by the Education Bureau, Diocesan Boys' School's annual school fees for the secondary school division will go up to HK$51,200 per year and HK$45,000 for the primary division.

As for Diocesan Boys' School's International Baccalaureate stream, the fees could rise by 15 percent to HK$117,300 once approved by the Education Bureau.

The secondary one school fees for YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College may increase by 6.25 percent to HK$51,000.

Its principal, Chen, said the reason for the increase is because the school might need more teachers in the coming year. He added the school fees for secondary two to six will be frozen.

Other than DSS schools, the English Schools Foundation, the largest local international school group, announced in March that it will continue freezing school fees for 22 of its schools in the next academic year.

The Education Bureau emphasized that DSS schools that intend to adjust their school fees in the upcoming school year must consult students' parents about the increase and explain the reasons for the increase.

The bureau said that when reviewing the justifications for school fee increases submitted by schools, it will ensure that schools have conducted consultations and set aside no less than 10 percent of the total tuition fee income to support students with financial needs.

It added that it will complete the application approval process before the start of the new school year.

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