ESF Subvention Update

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The Loss of the ESF Subvention

Anne Murphy
Director, ITS Educational Services Ltd

The discussions and negotiations have finally come to an end between the ESF Board and the Government. The decision is not a favorable one for ESF. The Government has not agreed to the long term retention of the subvention.
So, how will the loss of the subvention affect all existing and future ESF students? The recurrent subvention, frozen at the current level, will remain in place for three school years from 2013-2016. The subvention will be phased out year by year, over 13 years, so the last year group to qualify will be students who graduate in 2028-29. As a result, there is an expectation that annual tuition fees will rise by 23% in 2016.

To maintain the maintenance of the schools and facilities, further funding will have to be found from somewhere when the subvention completely ceases. So, as well as increasing tuition fees what else is expected. The ESF Board may even introduce a Corporate Nomination Right similar to that of Discovery College but at a much higher cost of HK$5,000,000 which will depreciate over 20 years.
The ESF Board did manage to secure the continuation of Government funding for ESF’s special needs provision and the re-building of Island School. Government subvention for Jockey Club Sarah Roe School (JCSRS) and for the Learning Support Centres (LSCs) (a total of HK$28.3 million per year) will be maintained at the existing level, pending a wider Government review of support for students with special educational needs.

Also, subject to approval by the Finance Committee of LegCo, a capital grant will be made available to assist in funding the re-building of Island School. The capital grant will be equal to 100% of the cost of constructing a standard design public sector school educating the same number of students. At today’s prices this would be HK$270 million. After the re-development of Island School, ESF, like all international schools in Hong Kong, will not be entitled to any financial support except for an interest-free loan for construction of a school on an allocated green-field site. ESF will fund the balance of the costs of re-building Island School estimated at HK$1.3 billion. The school will be re-built on its current site and the Education Bureau has agreed to search for sites to which students can be temporarily transferred during construction.

Further to the news about the subvention, ESF recently declared changes to their admission policies. Priority for an admissions interview/assessment will be based on the following ranked criteria; students who are able to benefit from an English medium education and who (in order);
1.Are the children of full-time staff at ESF or ESF Educational Services Ltd
2.Are siblings of students already attending an ESF primary or secondary school or Jockey Club Sarah Roe School
3.Are Nomination Rights holders
4.Are the children of former students who have attended an ESF school for minimum of 3 years or are former ESF students returning from a period overseas
5.Are other applicants who can benefit from an English –medium education.

Also, apart from interviewing prospective students, parents will also be interviewed and will be expected to write a statement to declare why ESF education is their preferred choice for their child. Isn’t it all just getting too much? If you need to know more about the new admissions procedures, or how the loss of the subvention will affect you, drop us an email at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

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