10 most expensive private schools in South Africa

Private schools offer parents who seek an alternative to the public schooling system the opportunity to offer their children a well-resourced learning environment and participate in extramural activities such as sports and the arts. 

But the costs of a private school education often go beyond the obvious tuition and boarding fees. 

TechCentral conducted research to determine the 10 most expensive private schools in South Africa, including some of the additional fees they charge. 

There are subtle differences in the fee structures for high school pupils within the same schools. Some of the schools on the list charge a single fee across the grades 8 to 12, while others keep the same fees from grade 8 to 11, with only matric having a different fee, and others still have separate fees for grades 8 and 9, grade 10, and grades 11 and 12. 

To simplify the analysis, the fees in the table are for the matric year across all schools in question, which is usually the most expensive year of the high school curriculum. The list is sorted from highest to lowest based on annual tuition fees only. 

The Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands is home to the two most expensive private schools in South Africa, namely Hilton College and Michaelhouse. Since these schools do not offer the option for day scholar attendance, their fee structures are given as a single charge for tuition and boarding fees combined. 

Fees, fees, fees

At R397 660, Hilton is R54 652/year more expensive than the average cost of tuition and boarding at any of the other 10 schools on the list. But these are not the only costs to consider. 

“On acceptance, you will need to pay a R99 415 non-refundable entrance fee, the equivalent of one term’s fees at the current rate, to the school as a contribution to the school’s development programme,” according to the Hilton College fee booklet for 2024. 

School   Location  Annual tuition fees  Boarding fees   Total 
Hilton College KwaZulu-Natal Midlands  R397 660  Boarding only  R397 660 
Michaelhouse  KwaZulu-Natal Midlands  R368 000  Boarding only  R368 000 
Kearsney College  Botha’s Hill, Durban  R240 900  R109 230  R350 130 
St John’s College  Houghton, Johannesburg  R206 768  R145 844  R352 612 
Roedean School   Parktown, Johannesburg  R203 607  R156 480  R360 087 
Bishops Diocesan College  Rondebosch, Cape Town   R199 650  R141 780  R341 430 
St Mary’s School Waverley  Waverley, Johannesburg  R189 880  R145 590  R335 470 
Crawford College, Sandton   Sandton, Johannesburg  R189 570  N/A  R189 570 
St Alban’s College  Lynwood Glen, Pretoria  R187 020  R141 900  R328 920 
Clifton School   Morningside, Durban  R186 426  R114 000  R300 426 
St Stithians College  Sandton, Johannesburg  R174 410  R128 060  R302 470 
Average    R231 262  R135 360  R329 706 

Non-refundable acceptance fees are standard across most private schools in South Africa, but they are only one of a number of standardised levies and fees to consider. A development levy, ranging from R1 000 to R7 000, depending on the school, is also standard. 

Other standard levies include security and transportation charges. Beyond these standard levies, however, are several non-standard fees that are charged by some institutions, such as the backup power levy of R2 395/year charged by St Stithians – an obvious side effect of load shedding. 

Boarders enjoy all their meals, including midmorning tea, paid for as part of their boarding fees. But most schools with boarding facilities that also offer day scholarship provide morning tea and hot lunch to day scholars at an extra charge. As an example, morning tea and hot lunch are R11 200/year and R14 895/year, respectively, at St John’s College. 

Parents who live outside South Africa and enter their children into boarding also pay an extra deposit that covers the cost of deportation as well as emergency health services should the need arise. While the cost varies between schools, it is usually equivalent to the cost of one term of tuition and refundable upon the student’s completion of his or her studies. 

Extracurricular activities also attract costs above tuition fees. For sports, the cost of equipment and travel to special events such as tournaments in other provinces or overseas all fall on the parent. Music and dance lessons, usually charged at an hourly rate, are also charged separately.

Read: See world-class robotics built by South African school kids 

Interesting to note is that the most expensive schools in South Africa are dominated by single-sex institutions. Hiton, Michaelhouse, St John’s, Bishops and St Alban’s are all-boy schools. On the other hand, Rodean, St Mary’s and Kingsmead College are all-girl schools. St Stithians has both a boy’s and a girl’s school on a single campus, but sport and other extramural activities are managed separately.  — (c) 2024 NewsCentral Media

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Source: techcentral.co.za