10th March 2017

It was reported in The Times* earlier this month that boarding school fees are expected to exceed £40,000 for the first time this autumn, which could put them out of reach to all but the wealthiest families.

The annual increase of Independent school and college fees in the UK has been slowing down in recent years. There was an average increase of 3.5% between the 2014/15 and 2015/16 school years, however, many boarding school fees are hovering just below the £40k level.

Dulwich School

© Copyright Noel Foster Creative Commons Licence.

Here is a list of the current annual fees of the most expensive boarding schools:

  1. Dulwich College £39,480
  2. Abingdon School £38,625
  3. Tonbridge School £37,539
  4. Harrow School £37,350
  5. Wellington College £37,110
  6. Brighton College £37,110
  7. Malvern College £37,104
  8. Eton College £37,062
  9. Charterhouse £36,774
  10. Winchester College £36,678

If the fees at Dulwich College, in southeast London, increase by 3.75% as they did last year, its fees will be £40,960 next year.

Similarly, if Abingdon School fees increase by 4.5%, as they did last year, its annual boarding school fee will be £40,363 in the autumn.

The prestige of private education in the UK attracts wealthy families from around the world, but principals are keen to prevent their schools from becoming enclaves for super rich foreign children. Three years ago, Tim Haynes, Headmaster of Tonbridge School, said: “We have allowed the apparently endless queue of wealthy families from across the world knocking at our doors to blind us to a simple truth: we charge too much.”

In response, many schools are spending more on bursaries and raising the salary threshold for assistance. There are examples of bursaries being offered to parents on six-figure salaries, as even they would struggle to afford the fees without help. For example, St Paul’s, in Barnes, London, offers bursaries to families with a joint income of up to £120,000, under a new scheme introduced last year.

Some of the public schools use endowment funds to keep fee rises to a minimum and to fund more bursaries. Eton has an endowment fund worth £378 million. Harrow School has an endowment fund worth £40 million. It also relies on the generosity of benefactors and former students to pay for major new facilities in order to free up funds for bursaries.

Some independent schools and colleges prioritise on the standard of teaching rather than outstanding facilities to make private school fees more affordable.

* Nicola Woolcock, Education Correspondent, The Times, 4 March 2017

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Categories: All, Education, School Fees Planning

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