South African private school price shocker

 ·30 May 2024

South Africa’s top private schools have significantly increased their fees over the last ten years, with four bumping up fees by over 100%.

Private education is a vibrant sector in South Africa as the government fails to provide quality education.

Although there are still many world-class public schools, like Hoërskool Waterkloof, Afrikaanse Hoër, Paul Roos Gym, and King Edward VII High School, they are exceptions.

Most public schools provide poor education and are hampered by a lack of funds, mismanagement, and other problems.

The problems in the public school sector have resulted in a booming private school sector to provide kids with a good education.

Companies like ADvTECH and Curro have built excellent businesses providing high-quality private education.

However, sending kids to a private school is beyond the reach of most South African households.

Although independent schools may receive state subsidies if they satisfy certain criteria, sending children to a private school remains a luxury.

One of the challenges for South African private schools is that providing a world-class education costs a lot of money.

To ensure a school is sustainable, it has to generate enough revenue from school fees to ensure it can attract the best teachers and provide excellent facilities and after-school activities.

A good example of the escalating costs is load-shedding. Private schools are on their own to ensure their activities are not interrupted by power cuts.

The same goes for water, security, transport, and many other things these schools are responsible for.

The result is that private schools had to significantly increase their fees to ensure they remained financially sustainable.

The higher private school fees can result in challenges as many households struggle to make ends meet because of high-interest rates, inflation, and a sluggish economy.

Curro highlighted a concerning trend across its schools, with enrollment numbers showing that some parents are struggling due to the higher cost of living.

Its latest results showed that its registered learners in February 2024 remained virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

It noted that high schools are growing as expected, but the challenging impact of higher interest rates on constrained consumers means that enrolments in the earlier grades are struggling.

The high interest rates and higher food and fuel costs reduced enrolments of learners in the youngest grades of primary schools.

South Africa’s most expensive private schools

Bishops College

South Africa’s top private schools were no exception regarding financial responsibilities, and all of them increased fees in 2024.

In 2024, fees for boarding schools and day schoolers increased at an average of 7.3% across the 40 most expensive schools in the country.

There are now at least six private schools charging more than R350,000 a year for boarding and tuition.

Hilton College in KwaZulu-Natal is the most expensive school in the country, with annual fees of R397,660. It raises fees by 7.5% from last year.

MichaelHouse, St Andrew’s College in Makhanda, Roedean School for Girls, St John’s College, and Kearsney College all charge more than R350,000 annually.

Looking at a longer period shows the big price increases South Africa’s top private schools had to implement.

The top schools hiked prices between 70% and 105% between 2014 and 2024. Four schools increased rates by over 100%.

Diocesan School for Girls has the biggest fee increase at 105%, followed by Bishops College, Kingswood College, and St Anne’s Diocesan College.

The table below shows the fee increases for South Africa’s top private schools over the last decade.

SchoolLocation2014 fees2024 fees%
Diocesan School for GirlsMakhanda, ECR157 590R323 040105%
Bishops CollegeCape Town, WCR168 140R341 430103%
Kingswood CollegeMakhanda, ECR158 355R318 210101%
St Anne’s Diocesan CollegeHilton, KZNR146 200R293 340101%
St Andrew’s CollegeMakhanda, ECR182 700R363 87999%
Roedean School for GirlsJohannesburg, GPR181 140R360 08799%
St John’s CollegeJohannesburg, GPR178 523R352 61298%
St Mary’sJohannesburg, GPR173 700R335 47093%
Kearsney CollegeBotha’s Hill, KZNR181 350R350 13093%
MichaelHouseBalgowan, KZNR192 000R368 00092%
HiltonHilton, KZNR209 000R397 66090%
Bridge HouseFranschhoek, WCR149 490R281 75088%
Treverton CollegeMooi River, KZNR142 400R263 99685%
St Andrew’s School for Girls, SenderwoodJohannesburg, GPR174 860R320 68083%
St Alban’s CollegePretoria, GPR181 000R328 92082%
St Stithians CollegeJohannesburg, GPR166 691R302 47081%
Wykeham CollegaitePietermaritzberg, KZNR154 820R268 60073%
Herschel Girls SchoolCape Town, WCR157 560R271 78072%
Somerset CollegeStellenbosch, WCR167 736R285 50070%

Read: The jobs that pay private school-level salaries in South Africa

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