Despite the high fees, a place in one of Hong Kong’s top international schools is more highly prized than ever. But demand currently far exceeds supply, a fact bemoaned by expatriates and local parents alike.
This shortfall could affect the city’s long-term prosperity, many fear. Recent surveys by the British and Canadian chambers of commerce have found that the difficulty of securing a place for expatriate children at top institutions makes it harder for overseas companies to grow in Hong Kong.
In the coming academic year, the highly regarded Hong Kong International School (HKIS) will teach over 2,600 students, from Reception 1 to Grade 12, at its two sites in Repulse Bay and Tai Tam. The school had to turn away over 70 per cent of this year’s applicants.
“Each year, HKIS’ Reception 1 class (pre-Kindergarten) offers places to 135 new students,” says Erik Dierks, HKIS chief advancement officer. “This year, HKIS received 29 per cent more applications for the 2011-2012 school year than in the previous years.”
The school has been offering an American-style education to students for the past 44 years, and one factor accounting for its continued popularity is its impressive state-of-the-art facilities.
“The school consists of over one million square feet of learning space spread over two campuses,” says Dierks.
But it’s the academic success of the school’s students, along with their all-round development, that is the big draw for parents.
“For the year 2009-2010, HKIS SAT scores were consistently above the US national mean,” says Dierks. “HKIS reading scores were 115 points above; for math, 148 above; and for writing, 133. Students graduating from HKIS attend many of the best universities in the world.
“We work with all students to achieve their highest potential academically, and to get involved as global citizens,” he continues. “We expect our students to be active participants in their present and future communities.”
Results and goals like these are impossible to achieve without top quality teaching. The school’s 500 faculty and staff have been drawn from Hong Kong and across the globe. Dierks says HKIS seeks teaching applicants who are more than excellent educators.
“Our teachers are life-long learners, collaborative, and involved in all aspects of our school community. We also seek applicants with a commitment to understanding and respecting Christianity and other religions.”
Dierks believes that teachers are attracted to HKIS by the opportunity to work at a premier international school and by the institute’s focus on developing the whole student.
“We also offer a competitive and innovative compensation package encompassing professional growth, career progression, teacher assessment and a knowledge- and skills-based performance pay.”