Rejected, so expat families turn to international schools

Students attend an Introduction to Mandarin class at the ISS International School.
Students attend an Introduction to Mandarin class at the ISS International School.PHOTO: ST FILE

With entry into local schools becoming harder, expatriate parents are turning to their next best option - international schools.

Several of these schools told The Sunday Times that they have received more inquiries from parents, especially since last year.

Chatsworth International School said about 40 per cent of its January student intake this year had applied to local schools but were rejected.

The school, which has been operating at full or near-full capacity with close to 800 students in the last few years, said it has received 20 per cent more inquiries in the last two to three years.

Since last August, it has fielded over 100 inquiries each month from new families seeking places.

A spokesman for the Overseas Family School (OFS) said it has also received more inquiries in the last few years, most of them from China. It has nearly 300 Chinese students now, more than double the figure compared with three years ago.

Its number of Indian students has grown, from some 700 two years ago to 800 now.

The OFS spokesman said: "We are seeing a gradual shift in the profile of our students with more Asian expats coming in, like Filipinos and Thais. These groups usually opt for public schools because they are more affordable and they like the academic rigour there."

A spokesman for Dover Court International School said it has seen a jump in inquiries, with a "small increase" in requests from international families who cannot get places for their children in local schools, she said.

ISS International School, which has been receiving a "steady stream" of inquiries in the last two to three years, has noticed a 15 per cent rise in applications from Asian students, such as those from China and Japan.

The Ministry of Education has over the years raised school fees for foreigners and permanent residents. In 2009, foreign pupils paid $156 a month including miscellaneous fees to attend primary schools, and $226 for secondary schools. Their new fees this year are $550 and $800 respectively.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 13, 2016, with the headline 'Rejected, so expat families turn to international schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe