information for global expats

International Schools for Expats in Hong Kong

Submitted: July 2013

International schools tend to adopt a varying curriculum and teaching style. These schools are often very competitive and may have relatively long waiting lists for each grade. In Hong Kong, the majority of the International Schools prepare their students for the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams . However, there are several schools which prepare students for various other international examinations.

Common among international schools, is the English Schools Foundation (ESF). These schools provide an alternative to mainstream stream education particularly for English-speaking students who cannot access the local system. Students at these schools enjoy lower tuition fees relative to those of other international schools as the former are subsidized by the Hong Kong Government primarily due to inability to access the local system . The curriculum at these schools is geared toward preparing students for either UK SCSEs or International GCSE courses, thereafter the IB diploma, though considerations are made for students with special needs. For more information on curriculum at ESF schools, visit: https://www.esf.edu.hk/curriculum/secondary

With the government encouraging the use of Chinese as the main teaching language in local schools, the demand for English-medium schools and the more sought-after international schools has become considerable. Inevitably, the demand for spaces far outstrips availability. When considering your child’s school, the following listed schools in this link may be considered as alternatives to ESF schools. https://hongkong.geoschools.com/articles/academics/810-13-alternatives-to-esf-schools-that-you-may-not-know-about

Aside from ESF schools, there are many other international schools which teach in the language of their sponsoring nation (e.g. French, Japanese, and German). A more comprehensive list of available international school, including summative information on each is provided by the following links:




The following article may also provide some more insight on available international schools:


In assessing the quality of education, you may want to consider whether the prospective international school is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) or any other reputable accreditation body. The list of member schools can be found on their website, https://www.cois.org/.

Admission into international school may vary greatly due to their autonomy over selecting whom they enrol. For ESF, preference is often given to students who cannot speak Chinese, students of alumni and siblings of students. Almost all schools will require a face-to-face interview to help with the selection process.

Tuition fees for international schools may be notably high; reaching as much as HK$ 183,000 (US$ 23,600/ £ 15,300). Additional costs may include a non-refundable application fee, a reservation fee that may be as much as half the required annual tuition and an annual capital levy. ESF schools all have a similar fee structure for all schools which is notably lower due to subsidization from the government.

More information on available international schools is provided at the bottom of the following link:




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