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Phuket Expat Finance: The Price of Learning

PHUKET: Precisely to whom we owe the phrase, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,” is a matter for some debate, but the sentiment was first recorded over 100 years ago.


Phuket Expat Finance

Sunday 4 June 2017, 10:00AM

Ponder on that for a moment: more than a century ago, the cost of a private education was already a matter of concern. But anyone with children in private schools for the last 10-15 years doesn’t even need to look back a full century to recognise that school and university fees have been increasing by more than the headline rate of inflation.

Unless you have children, you may not have noticed the pace of school fees inflation over the past few years. The table below shows the tuition fees only for high school age students at some of Thailand’s best-known international schools. These figures are in baht, and do not include any deposits, application fees, registration fees any other fees which the schools may charge.

The current figures are taken from either the schools’ own websites, or where tuition had already been update for the 2017-18 academic year, from the John Catt’s Guide to International Schools. The 2010 tuition numbers are taken either from John Catt’s, or where no tuition was listed, from a 2010 Daily Telegraph article on Thai international schools.

As you can see, fees at these prominent international schools have gone up between 30% and 61% in the past six years alone. That is an average annualised inflation rate of 6.65%! But what does this mean when it comes to planning for education fees? If you were to begin saving today, you would need to put away around B 78,000 per month for the next 18 years to fully fund the average school fees of one child – assuming the average school fees inflation remains constant, and the growth rate on your savings is the same 6.65% per annum.

It may not surprise you to learn that the rising cost of academia is not limited to secondary schools; universities have seen similar increases. The following table includes tuition fees for Harvard University, University of Oxford, University of Southampton, University of Minnesota, McGill University and the University of Melbourne.

Harvard and Oxford are obviously on the list a the “standard bearers” of the US and UK, respectively. While Southampton and Minnesota are not considered “elite” institutions, they do represent large, well-respected universities in both the UK and the US. Finally, McGill and Melbourne are there to show that the trend of tuition increases extends to Canada and Australia, as well. For all but Oxford, we were able to find data going back to the year 2000.

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As you can see, on average, annualised increases in university tuition have been less than those seen at international secondary schools. At each university, these tuition fees are for foreign students, and demonstrate the drawing power of universities in English-speaking countries.

England, owing to its historical imperial ties to many countries around the world, has always been a popular destination for international students, while the growth of economies throughout Asia has seen Australia – by virtue of its geographic proximity – become a “go-to” country for Asian students.

Putting it all in perspective, in order to send a child to Oxford University in 18 years, you would need to save £300 (ca. B13,397) per month for the next 20 years to fund only the cost of tuition.

Whether private schooling or university, education is not cheap and the prices are only heading in one direction (HINT: not down). To put it succinctly: if you have children, it is imperative that you begin planning today.

For the past 20 years, we have been helping parents in Thailand save for their children’s education. If you would like to learn more about how you can establish a dedicated education savings account, please contact us at



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