New research reveals the cost of international education around the world in 2019

Key points:

  • The most expensive international education worldwide can be found in Asia, particularly in China.
  • Beijing, Shanghai and Zurich are the top three most expensive cities for international schools.
  • The Middle East and Africa are the cheapest areas in the world for international education.

At the International Schools Database, we help local and expat parents choose the perfect international school for their children. Our database allows parents to find, research and compare international schools in cities across four continents. Naturally, this means that we gather and analyse a huge amount of information about international schools all over the world.

Our latest research project uses this data to evaluate the prices of international schools across the globe. We have compiled price data at regional levels for Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, along with worldwide price trends in this article.

Below, we have analysed the worldwide price data from 56 cities in 52 countries, in graph and table forms. While we have used all price data available to us, there may be additional schools and prices not included in each city, because they do not make their price data available or it is unknown to us. Links to additional research focusing in each of the regions individually can be found at the bottom of this article.

Worldwide Prices of International Schools Per Year

The graph below is known as a box plot graph. It shows a comprehensive view of the range of prices in each city, instead of just an average, as a single average price may not necessarily represent the full picture of prices in each destination. Since there is a lot to unpack in this graph, we have also provided a little explanation on how to read the graph easily at the end of the article.

How to read this graph

Highlights and takeaways from the research findings

The most expensive schools worldwide can be found in Asia, particularly in China. Only one Asian city - Cambodia’s Phnom Penh - offers prices for under $2,000 per year, while Beijing and Shanghai have the second and third most expensive maximum prices on the planet at $41,389 and $38,853 per year. Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe takes the first spot at $48,575 per year.

In Beijing alone, there is over $33,000 in the difference between the cheapest and most expensive schools. Shanghai has an even wider range of $4,830 to $38,853, giving them the advantage of catering to parents on a wide spectrum of income level.

In stark contrast, Africa offers some of the cheapest minimum prices in the world for international education; 4 of the 10 cheapest cities in our research are African. In fact, Uganda’s capital Kampala is home to the least expensive price worldwide, at just $523 per year.

Even more affordable in general is the Middle East, which has five cities in the cheapest top 10; Manama at $1,003 per year, Kuwait City at $1,241, Doha at $1,250, Riyadh at $1,675, and Dubai at $2,317.

However in the Middle East in particular, there is a big range of prices in all cities included in our research due to the high numbers of international schools available. So while their minimum prices may seem cheap, their maximum prices could be considered quite high, which in turn raises the average prices.

As for Europe, certain cities offer very good (relative) affordability. In Madrid, you can expect to pay a maximum of $15,095 per year according to our data, while in Malaga the maximum price drops to $10,471 - the cheapest on the continent by a significant margin, and the second cheapest maximum price in the world.

Switzerland is China’s closest rival at the expensive end of the scale. Zurich takes the top spot in Europe and third in the world with prices ranging from $8,052 per year $31,406.

In one third of the European cities included in our study, the median price sits between $9,000 and $11,000. Paris, the city with the widest range of prices and the third highest maximum price, is included in this. So while school prices in Europe do reach the top end of the scale in some countries, the ‘ballpark’ price on the continent as a whole can be lower than in other regions.

You can find a breakdown of exact prices for each city in the table below. But if you’d like even more analysis, we have also compiled price data by region; you can find links to this additional research at the bottom of this article. If you require any further information or have additional questions, don't hesitate to contact us at andrea@international-schools-database.com.

Prices of International Schools Per Year

Rank City Minimum Q1 Median Q3 Maximum
1 Beijing $8,097 $22,730 $31,253 $34,094 $41,389
2 Shanghai $4,830 $19,036 $30,046 $37,711 $38,853
3 Zurich $8,052 $23,705 $25,630 $27,776 $31,406
4 Shenzhen $11,365 $20,350 $24,577 $29,456 $31,679
5 Lausanne - Vaud $14,840 $16,529 $24,296 $28,167 $35,296
6 Geneva $14,840 $19,604 $23,414 $25,405 $28,006
7 Toronto $12,489 $13,758 $21,979 $24,302 $25,283
8 Seoul $8,008 $18,175 $21,475 $25,637 $30,887
9 Singapore $4,406 $14,402 $20,910 $23,817 $37,859
10 Guangzhou $11,231 $13,780 $20,741 $24,762 $29,818
11 Tokyo $5,615 $13,324 $18,101 $21,263 $25,773
12 Vienna $5,688 $8,763 $17,344 $20,074 $21,613
13 Brussels $6,806 $13,227 $17,195 $22,431 $36,330
14 Hanoi $4,905 $5,751 $17,171 $19,441 $27,340
15 Hong Kong $10,543 $14,798 $16,207 $21,533 $31,424
16 Ho Chi Minh City $4,560 $9,389 $15,662 $19,353 $24,836
17 Yangon $7,010 $10,400 $15,500 $24,250 $28,000
18 Bangkok $2,516 $8,699 $14,336 $19,918 $31,125
19 Taipei $5,560 $13,181 $13,487 $16,223 $26,148
20 Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe $4,878 $8,560 $13,172 $15,326 $48,575
21 Milan $3,307 $8,019 $13,117 $16,091 $19,400
22 Frankfurt am Main $4,144 $7,275 $12,857 $16,255 $22,475
23 Rome $6,462 $8,363 $11,618 $15,239 $19,014
24 Budapest $4,314 $9,603 $11,559 $12,421 $23,100
25 Jakarta $2,339 $7,384 $11,466 $18,779 $30,075
26 Dubai $2,317 $5,951 $11,402 $14,902 $25,885
27 São Paulo $7,118 $9,095 $11,331 $18,769 $31,693
28 Paris $2,544 $6,900 $10,711 $20,281 $33,508
29 Berlin $2,568 $5,974 $10,471 $11,821 $16,203
30 San Jose $4,449 $9,471 $10,410 $11,658 $18,203
31 Manila $2,347 $5,246 $9,901 $15,476 $20,278
32 Doha $1,250 $7,735 $9,888 $11,931 $20,786
33 Barcelona $4,508 $7,451 $9,878 $12,400 $18,301
34 Lisbon $4,503 $7,121 $9,810 $12,803 $13,447
35 Bucharest $4,078 $7,234 $9,697 $13,771 $21,880
36 Prague $5,835 $7,437 $9,249 $14,878 $22,100
37 Sofia $5,010 $5,936 $9,149 $12,400 $21,136
38 Lima $5,073 $6,867 $8,767 $11,335 $16,830
39 Madrid $4,100 $6,448 $8,763 $9,831 $15,095
40 Phuket $5,563 $7,169 $8,515 $11,009 $20,397
41 Kuwait City $1,241 $7,083 $8,502 $11,613 $17,284
42 Abu Dhabi $2,532 $6,773 $8,414 $12,410 $20,421
43 Warsaw $4,103 $6,386 $7,694 $10,105 $21,730
44 Nairobi $2,687 $5,315 $7,222 $13,070 $28,479
45 Malaga - Costa del Sol $2,621 $5,707 $6,663 $7,287 $10,471
46 Amsterdam $3,764 $4,983 $6,117 $17,427 $26,234
47 Riyadh $1,675 $3,200 $6,000 $8,533 $22,696
48 Cairo $3,433 $4,470 $5,970 $7,834 $24,850
49 Kuala Lumpur $2,446 $4,083 $5,898 $8,687 $22,273
50 Manama $1,003 $3,678 $5,426 $8,943 $20,424
51 Johannesburg $1,085 $3,986 $5,178 $6,600 $24,342
52 Kampala $523 $2,165 $4,875 $7,154 $19,400
53 Phnom Penh $1,840 $3,387 $4,825 $7,050 $19,941
54 Addis Ababa $1,046 $2,663 $4,800 $13,668 $24,690
55 Copenhagen $3,613 $4,034 $4,542 $5,095 $18,139
56 Cape Town $2,181 $3,690 $4,128 $4,567 $8,117

source: www.international-schools-database.com

How to read the graph

Boxplot explanation

The purple box shows the middle portion of the data, known in statistical lingo as the Interquartile Range. This is the ‘ballpark’ range that you would usually expect to pay in that particular city. The horizontal lines at each end of the box represent the First Quartile (Q1) and Third Quartile (Q3). These are the prices that would be considered somewhat cheaper (for Q1) or more expensive (for Q3) than the norm.

The median is shown as a vertical bar in the centre of the box. This is the price of the school in the exact middle of the range, i.e. the half-way point. Finally, you’ll see dots next to some of the box plots. These are ‘outliers’, prices that sit outside of all of the above ranges.

⇧ Go back to the graph ⇧

Additional research for other regions: