Private schools in South Africa have raised fees for 2022, in order to recover losses from a fee-freeze in 2021, designed to help parents cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to BusinessTech, Hilton College in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands (which only allows for boarding) retains its title as the most expensive school in the country, with its annual fees at R343 155: up 3.5% from last year.

In 2021, three elite schools exceeded R300 000 for tuition and boarding, and a year later, this has doubled to six schools with Roedean School for Girls, St John’s College, and Kearsney College joining Hilton, Michaelhouse and St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown in that bracket.

The latest school listing is also notable for citing the first day-school to breach the R200 000 mark. Kearsney College now charges R209 000 per annum for a grade 12 day-scholar. Day-school fees are also slowly escalating across the board, with at least 40 other schools now priced over R120 000 a year.

Some schools which kept fees unchanged in 2021 to help parents manage finances during the Covid-19 pandemic have now pushed fees up to compensate, resulting in increases above 7%.

Recent data from TPN Credit Bureau (TPN) shows that private schools in South Africa have been heavily impacted by the financial pressures of the Covid pandemic on parents.

Parents have prioritised paying mortgages or rent, credit facilities, secured credit and even unsecured credit instead.

Private schools have been unable to meet operational costs and other financial commitments. TPN says that only 26% of private schools managed their budgets on fees collected in 2021, while 9% were forced to use their reserves to cover expenses.

As many as 65% of private schools have been forced to make budget cuts since the onset of the pandemic.

Image: St John’s College, Mark Jelley, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons