How UK Boarding Schools Compare Internationally

| Monday, August 3rd, 2015

This report looks at the prices of UK Boarding schools and compares them to other similar schools

1) Market Size

According to the 2015 survey of 1,267 independent schools by the Independent Schools Council, there were 27,211 foreign students whose parents live overseas, accounting for 5.3% of the total student body. Of these, the vast majority - 92% - board. There were a further 4,175 British boarders whose parents live overseas.

Over two fifths of boarders are in sixth form. The weighted average yearly fee in 2014/15 for sixth form boarding was £32,169, and £29,685 for years 7 to 11. This compares to average fees of £15,100 and £14,000 respectively for private day schools. Some schools charge higher fees for overseas students, with premiums ranging from 8-25%.

Table 1: Total Number of UK Boarders

Years Total Number Boarders Average Cost Per Year Total Cost

Junior, Years 1-6




Senior, Years 7-11




Sixth Form, Years 12-13




Total Boarders (domestic & international)




Source: ISC, FXcompared Intelligence

Table 2: Market Size for International Boarders

Breakdown Student Numbers Cost per Year Total Cost

Total International Students


Of which board


International Boarders in the UK


+ UK Boarders with overseas parents


= Boarders funded from overseas


Average Boarders fee per year





Day school students funded from parents overseas


Average Day fee per year


Total Day fees from overseas parents


Total Overseas Students


Source: ISC, FXcompared Intelligence

We estimate the total annual market size of school pupils from overseas is £915m as shown in the table above. The vast majority of the market is made up of international boarders who school in the UK.

2) UK School Costs

According to our research, boarding school fees at the top 100 fee-paying schools in the UK range from £16,000 to nearly £40,000 a year (Hurtwood House, Dorking), averaging just under £31,000. Eton’s price for Boarders is £34,461 per year.

Some schools charge a premium for international students, pushing the highest annual fee to £45,000 (Hurtwood House, Dorking)

3) Savings available for international payments for UK Schooling

Using only traditional bank methods to pay UK school fees from overseas accounts can add a cost of up to £30m per year - around £1,009 per pupil per year – due to the poor exchange rates and fees. That’s a return flight home once a year.

Using specialist currency brokers could save parents the equivalent of £1,009 per student per year which for a student who boards from Years 4 to 13 would mean a saving of £10,081; equivalent to the cost of a full term at the school i.e. a full term would be free!


  • Payments made in two instalments per year (some schools offer three payments which would make the savings even more as smaller amounts have worse exchange rates and as well as the additional fees from a third payment)
  • No additional costs for school trips, uniforms, supplies etc., just boarding cost
  • Difference between bank and broker rates and fees based on independent research conducted by FXcompared Intelligence of UK, US, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand banks and the leading currency brokers (virtually all of whom are on FXcompared) in June 2015

4) UK Boarding School Costs Compared to International School Costs

For British ex-pats living/working abroad, a major decision is whether to send children to boarding school in the UK or to a local or international school in their new home

Private school fees in the US range from around £13,000 to £32,000. International schools in popular ex-pat locations such as New York, Washington, DC, or Boston, cost around £21,000 per year.

Fees at British international schools in other popular ex-pat countries range considerably, from around £11,000 per year in Canada and the UAE, to £16,000 in Hong Kong, £18,000 in Singapore, and £22,000 in Switzerland. The average day school fee in the UK according to ISC is around £15,000 per year.

Table 3: Comparing UK Boarding to Overseas International Day Schools


Boarding or Day

Annual Cost

Difference to Overseas Boarding Avg for UK

UK (Top 100)

Boarding- UK student








Boarding- overseas student







US (Top 50)











US (Top 50)











Select Other Countries, Typical Costs of Day International Schools









Hong Kong
























Source: FXcompared Intelligence


  • US schools include 50 top independent day and international schools
  • Other countries cover international schools
  • Where fees vary by school year, fees quoted are for 6th form

5) Methodology

FXcompared Intelligence independently collected data from each of the Top 100 UK Boarding Schools, Top 50 US Schools and 60 other leading International schools globally in Switzerland, Australia, Canada, France, UAE, Germany, USA, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Data for bank rates and fees and broker rates for currency exchange come from FXcompared Intelligence own independent research of banks in UK, Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand (as of June 2015) as well as 27 brokers worldwide (current).

The ISC 2015 report was also reviewed for high-level data on the UK.

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