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Hong Kong Faces Severe School Place Shortage, Group Says

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Australian International School
A woman makes a phone call outside the Australian International School in Hong Kong. International schools in Hong Kong haven’t kept pace with a record number of applicants as companies expand offices to tap growth in China. Photographer: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong faces a critical shortage of spaces at international schools, hurting companies’ ability to attract expatriates to work in the Chinese financial hub, a school research group said.

Planned expansions won’t meet demand from local and expatriate families seeking an English-medium education for their children in the next few years, the Faringdon, U.K.-based International School Consultancy Group said yesterday in an e-mailed release.,

“This shortage of places is becoming so critical that global businesses in Hong Kong dependent on employee mobility are seriously concerned that they will not be able to recruit expatriate staff with families,” the group said.

International schools in Hong Kong haven’t kept pace with a record number of applicants as companies expand offices to tap growth in China. The lack of space may hurt the city’s competitiveness by keeping executives with families from relocating, according to the American Chamber of Commerce.

The number of students at international schools has almost doubled to 66,138 from 34,200 in 2000, the group said. The leading schools are at full capacity and many have waiting lists, it said.

Government planning isn’t meeting needs, resulting in schools raising the amount they charge in capital levies and debentures, the group said, referring to fees that are essentially loans required for admission that are sometimes paid back when the child leaves a school, the group said.

Primary Students

International schools in Hong Kong will face a shortfall of 4,203 places for primary students in 2016-2017 because of rising local demand and an increase in the number of expatriate families, the city’s education chief, Eddie Ng Hak-kim told lawmakers in June.

The average international school in Hong Kong has 374 students, according to the group, with Chinese, British, American, Canadian and Australian students making up the largest portion.

“The market needs to grow to respond to the demands,” Chairman Nicholas Brummitt said in the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Natasha Khan in Hong Kong at nkhan51@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tan Hwee Ann at hatan@bloomberg.net Nicholas Wadhams

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