32 of the most expensive and exclusive schools in South Africa

 ·6 Jan 2019

After a troubled year for the South African economy in 2018 – where households were placed under immense pressure due to a VAT hike and higher prices on almost every front – parents can expect steep hikes in the cost of private education in 2019.

Parents can expect to pay much higher fees at South Africa’s top-tier private school this year, with an average fee hike among the 20 most expensive schools coming in at around 8.0%.

A survey of twenty schools taken by the Sunday Times showed increases at state schools averaged 8.2% and hikes at private schools were on average 7.8% – significantly higher than the 5.0% inflation rate.

When BusinessTech first started tracking the most expensive schools in 2014, only one school (Hilton College) was priced over R200,000 for boarding and tuition – now in 2019, over 20 schools have moved into that price range.

Parents have become extremely sensitive to the rising costs of private education, with a noted increase in the number of parents who can no longer afford the school fees, and having to turn to financial aid.

Private school groups, meanwhile, have noted a decline in learner numbers as parents pull their kids out of schools due to rising prices.

The most expensive schools

The African Leadership Academy, with an annual tuition fee over R400,000 is technically the most expensive school in the country – however, because it is not a traditional IEB or NSC institution, we have excluded it from this list.

Hilton College in the KZN midlands retains its title as the most expensive school in the country, with its annual fees (which only allows for boarding) now coming close to R300,000 a year.

Aside from the prestige, tradition, and beautiful facilities and grounds, the fees generally cover tuition, board, games, ordinary medical attention, the use of the sanatorium, library and laundry.

It also includes basic entertainment which is arranged for learners, and transport for sporting and other events.

It must be noted that most schools do not include additional fees in this amount. Additional fees can typically relate to various levies, such as IT and infrastructure, as well as further costs for food, extra mural activities and trips.

Hilton College – R298,600

Hilton College

MichaelHouse – R284,000

Michaelhouse Building

Michaelhouse Building

St Andrew’s College – R271,965

St Andrews

Roedean School for Girls – R270,006

Roedean School for Girls

St John’s College – R264,735

St Johns

The most expensive boarding schools in South Africa (2019)

The fees listed below are as they appear on the various schools’ web pages, and cover tuition and boarding. Fees are for the highest level of learning available.

School 2018 2019 Change
Hilton R276 560 R298 600 +8.0%
MichaelHouse R265 680 R284 000 +6.9%
St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown R252 990 R271 965 +7.5%
Roedean School for Girls R252 341 R270 006 +7.0%
St John’s College R227 815 R264 735 +16.2%
Bishops, Rondebosch R240 380 R259 620 +8.0%
Kearsney College R242 220 R259 600 +7.2%
St Mary’s, Waverley R234 540 R254 345 +8.4%
St Andrew’s School for Girls, Senderwood R233 810 R250 220 +7.0%
St Stithians R232 640 R247 765 +6.5%
St Alban’s College R229 410 R247 650 +8.0%
St Martin’s R232 120 R244 500 +5.3%
Kingswood College R221 370 R240 735 +8.7%
St Mary’s DSG, Pretoria R209 675 R236 160 +12.6%
Diocesan School for Girls, Grahamstown R219 420 R235 890 +7.5%
Somerset College R208 515 R222 070 +6.5%
Bridge House R200 900 R218 950 +9.0%
St Cyprian’s R204 000 R218 800 +7.3%
St Anne’s Diocesan College R199 060 R214 980 +8.0%
The Wykeham Collegiate R196 600 R212 580 +8.1%
Crawford College North Coast R207 830
Treverton College R191 840 R207 200 +8.0%
Herschel Girls’ School R190 150 R203 670 +7.1%
St Charles College R194 800
Epworth High School for Girls R178 920 R192 339 +7.9%

Day schools

When taking out boarding options, the list of most expensive schools changes considerably (with MichaelHouse and Hilton removed, as they do not offer day school options).

While R200,000 is the ‘benchmark’ level for expensive tuition and board, when it comes to tuition only, there are many schools that now charge over R100,000 a year.

Kearsney College again ranks as the most expensive day school in the country with an annual tuition fee of just under R180,000.

Kearsney College – R178,640

Kearsney College

The most expensive day schools in South Africa (2019)

The fees listed below are as they appear on the various schools’ web pages, and cover tuition only. Fees are for the highest level of learning available (up to grade 12).

The list below has 28 day schools, excluding four boarding schools from the list above (Hilton and Michaelhouse, which are boarding only, and Epworth and St Charles, whose tuition fees fall below R100,000 a year).

School 2018 tuition 2019 tuition Change
Kearsney College R166 650 R178 640 +7.2%
St John’s College R145 488 R156 836 +7.8%
Roedean School for Girls R142 973 R152 982 +7.0%
St Martin’s R139 100 R149 000 +7.1%
Bishops, Rondebosch R137 260 R148 240 +8.0%
Kingsmead College R132 870 R146 045 +9.9%
Crawford College Sandton R132 830 R142 790 +7.5%
St Alban’s College R130 470 R140 850 +8.0%
St Mary’s, Waverley R129 780 R140 845 +8.5%
St Stithians R135 750 R140 550 +3.5%
Redhill School R129 521 R139 235 +7.5%
St Andrew’s School for Girls, Senderwood R126 110 R135 000 +7.0%
Crawford College La Lucia R126 390 R134 610 +6.5%
St Mary’s DSG, Pretoria R120 540 R128 970 +7.0%
Crawford College Lonehill R119 220 R128 160 +7.5%
Kingswood College R115 860 R127 305 +9.9%
Crawford College Pretoria R118 280 R127 150 +7.5%
St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown R113 085 R121 566 +7.5%
St Cyprian’s R110 000 R118 800 +8.0%
Diocesan School for Girls, Grahamstown R109 940 R118 190 +7.5%
Somerset College R105 403 R118 160 +12.1%
St Anne’s Diocesan College R108 880 R117 580 +8.0%
Crawford College North Coast R107 470 R115 530 +7.5%
The Wykeham Collegiate R105 920 R114 580 +8.2%
Woodridge College R106 186 R114 363 +7.7%
Bridge House R105 700 R113 950 +7.8%
Herschel Girls’ School R100 900 R109 000 +8.0%
Treverton College R93 280 R100 760 +8.0%

Read: Government to change history curriculum at South African schools

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