Top schools and universities – can you afford them?

As an expat living abroad, you might have to pay international student fees for your children to study at university. These fees are considerably higher than fees for local citizens. Aside from that you also have to consider accommodation and basic living expenses, books, and extra fees.

To add to that, if you don’t have university age children, private international schools are almost just as expensive as universities.


1. Introduction

2. Importance of an Education Savings Plan

2.1 Benefits of an Education Savings Plan

2.2 Example of Compound Interest of an Education Savings Plan

3. Average Fees of Private Schools

4. Ranking and Average Tuition Fees of Top Universities

4.1 Table of Top Universities and Tuition Fees

5. Other Costs to Consider

5.1 Average Student Living Expenses in Cities per month

6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The more affluent individuals should not be quick to judge saving for education fees. Expat packages abroad are usually very generous, but private school and university fees could eat up disposable income every month and leave very little left for savings or luxuries. To add insult to injury, many expat benefit packages are being trimmed down to exclude tuition for children.

According to Forbes, 45.8 Million Americans owe $1,7 Trillion in student loans. Do you want your children to be in debt before they even start their professional careers?

We look at the average tuition fees for private international schools and universities all over the globe.

2. Importance of an Education Savings Plan

Stats show that you could spend over £700 000 over the course of 18 years to put your child through private kindergarten, primary and high school, and tuition fees could reach over £100 000 for a degree at a top university.

 This is often more than most would have in their pension pot at retirement. To be fair, this huge amount is distributed over the course of 18 years but, imagine how much could be saved a month if there were an education plan in place to cover these costs.

Even for affluent professionals, this eats into monthly disposable income.

2.1 Benefits of an Education Savings Plan

  • You can give your children the opportunity to study at the best schools and universities if they so desire
  • Your children can start their professional careers without the burden of huge student loan debt
  • Having a lump sum for tuition allows you to have more monthly disposable income to save towards your retirement
  • Not having to spend huge amounts on schooling and universities will allow for more luxuries like family vacations, hobbies, or renovations to your home

2.2 Example of compound interest on an Education Savings Plan

An Education Savings Plan started at the birth of a child could help significantly to cover these huge expenses for private schools and university.

£200 invested a month into an Education Savings Plan earning on average 6% p.a. with a 2% annual increase to beat inflation

Term InvestedCompound interest earnedTotal Investment Sum
10 years£9 439£35 717
15 years£ 24 424£65 927
18 years£38 352£89 740

3. Average Fees of Private Schools

*All fees have been converted into Pound Sterling to make comparison easier

SchoolAverage school fees p.a.
Berlin Brandenburg International school  High school up to £18 000 p.a.
Australia International school – Hong Kong  High school £18 000 p.a.
St Benedict’s School London  High school £16 845 p.a.
International school of Madrid  High school £8 900 p.a.
International school – Paris  High school £26 300 p.a.
Barker Private school – Sydney  High school £18 000 p.a.
British school of Amsterdam  High school £15 000 p.a.

You also need to take into consideration that costs could double if you have two or more children.

4.Ranking and Average Fees of Top Universities

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University rankings for 2021 have been published. Over 1500 universities across 93 countries are included, and ratings are based on 13 carefully selected performance indicators that measure a university’s performance according to:

TeachingResearchKnowledge TransferInternational Outlook

Let’s look at the top countries boasting ranked universities. Most of the top 50 are based in the UK, US, W Europe (Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands), Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Australia, and Canada.

The table below just covers course fees. Accommodation and books often exceed course fees. (some of these universities have limited or no English tuition)

4.1 Table of Top Universities and Tuition Fees

World RankingCountryUniversityAverage course fees for international under-graduates
1UKOxford University£30 000
2USStanford University£38 000
14SwitzerlandETH Zurich Science and Technology£2 400
18CanadaUniversity of Toronto£23 000
20ChinaTsinghua University£3 200
25SingaporeNational University of Singapore£12 800
32GermanyLMU Munich£12 400
36SwedenKarolinska Institute£15 700
 TokyoUniversity of Tokyo£6 500
39Hong KongUniversity of Hong Kong£16 000
45BelgiumKV Leuven£3 100
46FranceParis Sciences et Lettres£2 455
51AustraliaUniversity of Sydney£31 000
60South KoreaSeoul University£8 800
62NetherlandsWageningen University and Research£14 000
84DenmarkUniversity of Copenhagen£12 400
98FinlandUniversity of Helsinki£13 200
127NorwayUniversity of OsloNo tuition fees (minor admin fees)
147New ZealandUniversity of Auckland£13 000
152SpainPompeu Fabra University£7 000
155South AfricaUniversity of Cape Town£4 630
 IrelandTrinity College£17 000
167ItalyUniversity of Bologna£2 100
174RussiaLomonosov Moscow State University£2 560
191IsraelTel Aviv University£9 150
200-250AustriaMedical University of ViennaNo fees (German only)
 BrazilUniversity of Sao Paulo£4 000
 EstoniaUniversity of Tartu£6 200
300-350IndiaInstitute of Science£3 000
 MalaysiaUniversity of Malaya£3 000
 QatarQatar University£7 300
350-400UAEKhalifa University£700

5. Other Costs to Consider

Remember that there are costs other than just tuition fees that need to be considered.

Costs could include:

  • Tuition fees
  • Admin/registration fees
  • Textbooks
  • Stationary
  • Accommodation and living expenses
  • Equipment
  • Membership to societies or sports clubs
  • Travel to school and back (international or local)

5.1 Average student living expenses in cities per month

(This includes food, leisure transport and personal items)

Sydney £ 1 100Madrid    £970Paris £970Hong Kong £1400Berlin £970Amsterdam £880London £ 1 265

6. Conclusion

There are more than just tuition fees to consider when planning for you children’s education needs. These need to be factored into the budget. It is ideal to meet with a financial adviser to plan out the future education needs of your child and how much you need to save into an education plan.

Contributing to an Education Savings Plan when your children are still infants, could help cover private school and university fees whilst you are abroad.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” –  Benjamin Franklin

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