Despite calls from education experts for private school fees to remain the same or have ‘controlled increases’ in 2021, the cost of private education in South Africa continues to climb.
In October 2020, South African governing body associations advised the country’s 3,000 fee-paying schools against price hikes in 2021, saying that the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown had placed all South Africans, even the wealthy, under strain.
Paul Colditz, chief executive of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools said the financial hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had hit private schools harder than public schools. “I think you will see a decrease in enrolment in private schools,” he said.
Anthea Cereseto, national chief executive of the Governing Body Foundation, said the federation did not advise schools not to increase fees, but to ‘limit it as far as possible’.
“We would consider it somewhat reckless if an ordinary public school took no notice of the economic position of families. We are really emphasising cutbacks and delaying the implementation of proposed projects.”
In assessing the fee increases at some of the most costly schools in the country, it is evident that most heeded the call to control price hikes for 2021. But when operating on such a high baseline, even a small increase can equate to a sizeable amount.
Thus 2021 sees private education at elite schools reach record highs in terms of price.
When BusinessTech first began to track the most expensive schools in 2014, only a single school (Hilton College) was priced over R200,000 for boarding and tuition – now in 2021, there are at least 30 schools in that price bracket.
Hilton, and nearby MichaelHouse, have since pushed into the R300,000 per year bracket, with St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown joining them in this price range for the first time in 2021.
Boarding schools – boarding and tuition
Hilton College in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands retains its title as the most expensive school in the country, with its annual fees (which only allows for boarding) at R331,550 – up 3% from last 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.
South Africa’s second-most expensive school, MichaelHouse, has reportedly hiked fees at a similar level – 2.9% – putting it at around R312,350 for a year of study and board in 2021. The school had not confirmed the exact number by the time of publication.
Joining the top two with fees above the R300,000 mark, St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown has hiked its 2021 fees by 5%, taking it to R305,550 for the year.
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.
The fees listed below are as they appear on the various schools’ web pages, and cover board and tuition only. Fees are for the highest level of learning available (up to grade 12). They include only the listed tuition fees, and exclude voluntary or additional fees (where listed). We’ve included the annual increase for schools where we have historic data.
|Hilton||R321 890||R331 550||3.0%|
|MichaelHouse||R303 600||~R312 350||2.9%|
|St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown||R291 000||R305 550||5.0%|
|Rodean School for Girls||R287 558||R296 184||3.0%|
|St John’s College||R284 189||R291 862||2.7%|
|Kearsney College||R277 200||R289 630||4.5%|
|St Mary’s, Waverly||R272 240||R280 400||3.0%|
|Bishops College||R277 800||R277 800||–|
|St Alban’s College||R264 900||R272 850||3.0%|
|Kingswood College||R258 810||R271 770||5.0%|
|St Andrew’s School for Girls, Senderwood||R265 270||R270 575||2.0%|
|Diocesan School for Girls, Grahamstown||R252 390||R265 020||5.0%|
|St Stithian’s||R260 320||R260 320||–|
|St Mary’s DSG, Pretoria||R252 690||R252 690||–|
|St Cyprian’s||R234 000||R251 200||7.4%|
|St David’s Marist Inanda||R239 680||R249 320||4.0%|
|St Martin’s||R236 500||R249 210||5.4%|
|The Wykeham Collegaite||R228 600||R240 700||5.3%|
|St Anne’s Diocesan College||R230 040||R240 400||4.5%|
|Somerset College||R236 500||R236 500||–|
|Bridge House||R237 940||R234 390||-1.5%|
|Crawford College North Coast||R220 490||R233 050||5.7%|
|St Benedict’s||R223 830||R229 670||2.6%|
|Herschel Girls’ School||R216 750||R224 090||3.4%|
|Durban Girls’ College||R219 500||R223 900||2.0%|
|Treverton College||R223 780||R223 780||–|
|Uplands College||R212 500||R221 000||4.0%|
|Epworth High School for Girls||R206 765||R215 035||4.0%|
|St Charles’ College||R213 800||R213 800||–|
|Woodridge College||R201 121||R210 172||4.5%|
Day schools – tuition only
When taking out boarding options, the list of most expensive day 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 R200,000, up 4.5% from 2020.
Signalling the hard times many have faced in South Africa due to the Covid-19 pandemic – even among those wealthy enough to give their children a private education at an elite school – several schools have kept fees unchanged from last year.
Among those that have implemented a fee hike, these have largely been kept below 5%.
|Kearsney College||R190 740||R199 320||4.5%|
|St John’s College||R167 658||R172 185||2.7%|
|Roedean School for Girls||R162 926||R167 814||3.0%|
|Bishops College||R158 620||R158 620||–|
|St Mary’s, Waverly||R151 470||R156 000||3.0%|
|Cedarwood School||New||R155 591||–|
|St Alban’s College||R150 600||R155 100||3.0%|
|Crawford College Sandton||R151 290||R153 710||1.6%|
|King David High School||R149 640||R151 890||1.5%|
|Clifton School, Durban||R151 707||–||–|
|Kingsmead College||R147 600||R151 290||2.5%|
|St Stithian’s||R150 110||R150 110||–|
|Redhill School||R148 981||R148 981||–|
|St David’s Marist Inanda||R141 400||R147 420||4.0%|
|St Andrew’s School for Girls, Senderwood||R143 100||R145 960||2.0%|
|Crawford College La Lucia||R141 990||R145 830||2.7%|
|St Martin’s||R138 000||R144 210||4.5%|
|Kingswood College||R136 860||R143 715||5.0%|
|SAHETI||R138 494||R141 956||2.5%|
|Crawford College Lonehill||R136 740||R139 650||2.1%|
|Crawford College Pretoria||R134 650||R138 320||2.7%|
|St Mary’s DSG, Pretoria||R138 000||R138 000||–|
|St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown||R130 074||R136 578||5.0%|
|St Cyprian’s||R128 000||R134 300||5.0%|
|Beaulieu College||R133 966||R133 966||–|
|St Peter’s College, Sunninghill||R134 424||R133 058||-1.0%|
|Diocesan School for Girls, Grahamstown||R126 458||R132 779||5.0%|
|St Benedict’s||R132 340||R132 340||–|
|Brescia House||R128 000||R132 320||3.4%|
|Herzlia High School||R127 092||R131 544||3.5%|
|St Anne’s Diocesan College||R125 820||R131 500||4.5%|
|Sacred Heart||R130 898||R130 898||–|
|The Wykeham Collegiate||R123 200||R129 500||5.1%|
|Woodridge College||R123 455||R129 011||4.5%|
|Bridge House||R122 960||R126 310||2.7%|
|Somerset College||R125 800||R125 800||–|
|St Charles’ College||R125 400||R125 400||–|
|Crawford College North Coast||R122 650||R125 310||2.2%|
|Durban Girls’ College||R120 900||R123 300||2.0%|
|Holy Rosary School||R118 665||R120 980||2.0%|
|Heronbridge College||R119 280||R119 280||–|
|Herschel Girls’ School||R116 400||R118 730||2.0%|
|Michael Mount Waldorf School||R116 523||R116 523||–|
|Uplands College||R110 500||R115 000||4.1%|
|Oak Hill College||R114 002||R114 002||–|
|Oakley House||R108 243||R113 601||4.9%|
|Parklands College||R111 995||R111 995||–|
|Epworth High School for Girls||R106 780||R111 050||4.0%|
|Thomas More College||R109 600||R109 600||–|
|St Dunstan’s College||R103 200||R108 900||5.5%|
|Treverton College||R108 820||R108 820||–|
|Crawford College Ruimsig||R107 710||R107 730||0.0%|
|Marist Brothers Linmeyer||R103 400||R107 600||4.1%|
|St Henry’s Marist College||R106 390||R106 390||–|
|Trinity House Randpark Ridge||R105 840||R105 840||–|
|Trinity House Little Falls||R105 840||R105 840||–|
Article updated to correct figures and name for St David’s Marist Inanda, as well as 2020 figures for Herschel Girls’ School.