Since 2012, the number of international schools in Malaysia has increased by 75% and there are now over 170 English-medium schools in the country with more planned over the next few years. There are many factors to consider before making a decision about which school to send your child to, from curriculum and location to facilities and academic record. But the most important and the one that will ultimately decide where, when and why you send your child to an international school comes down to dollars and cents – and where it all goes.
International schools are judged on the fees they charge as the common thought is that the more you pay, the more prestigious the school. With some of the established schools, this is the case. Not everyone can or wants to pay these high fees and with so much competition, it pays to look around and compare especially if you have more than one child. Visit several schools, ask many questions, and make informed comparisons and decisions when considering how much you want to invest into your child’s education.
Be aware that international schools will assess your child according to their age to ensure their educational needs will be met. These schools are run by either a Board / Council of Governors (not-for-profit) or Board of Directors (for profit business). In both cases, these boards are in charge of overseeing every aspect of how the school is run from financial performance and staff hires to day-to-day management and most importantly, ensuring your children receive the level of education you paid for.
Fees and payments explained
Application / Registration fee: a non-refundable fee payable upon submission of an application. Some schools charge an application fee and a registration fee as two separate payments.
Enrolment fee: non-refundable fee paid upon acceptance.
Deposit: this refundable deposit is based on which year group your child enters, i.e. the younger they are, the less it is. This is usually topped up annually and with some schools, when transitioning from primary to secondary school.
Tuition fees: billed every term or semester and includes books, resources and materials. Uniforms, bus services, certain school trips, exam fees, specific extracurricular activities and excursions, and sports trips are charged separately. Some schools provide laptops or tablets, while others request students to bring their own.
Building fund / levy fee: for maintenance of grounds, buildings and facilities. Usually charged termly in not-for-profit schools.
EAL programme: English as an Additional Language programme charged usually according to a percentage of the termly fees.
Sibling discount: applies to registration and termly fees, with the discount increasing with each sibling that enrols.
Re-enrolment fee: if a child leaves the school and returns within a certain time frame, this fee is applicable. If they return beyond the time frame, the normal procedure and fees apply.
Do note that fees are reviewed annually or every two years taking into account inflation, staff wages, renovations, new equipment and facilities, and campus expansion.