New research reveals the cost of international education

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

  • 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 analyze 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 analyzed 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.


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.


Rank City Minimum
1 Beijing $8,097
2 Shanghai $4,830
3 Zurich $8,052
4 Shenzhen $11,365
5 Lausanne – Vaud $14,840
6 Geneva $14,840
7 Toronto $12,489
8 Seoul $8,008
9 Singapore $4,406
10 Guangzhou $11,231
11 Tokyo $5,615
12 Vienna $5,688
13 Brussels $6,806
14 Hanoi $4,905
15 Hong Kong $10,543
16 Ho Chi Minh City $4,560
17 Yangon $7,010
18 Bangkok $2,516
19 Taipei $5,560
20 Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe $4,878
21 Milan $3,307
22 Frankfurt am Main $4,144
23 Rome $6,462
24 Budapest $4,314
25 Jakarta $2,339
26 Dubai $2,317
27 São Paulo $7,118
28 Paris $2,544
29 Berlin $2,568
30 San Jose $4,449
31 Manila $2,347
32 Doha $1,250
33 Barcelona $4,508
34 Lisbon $4,503
35 Bucharest $4,078
36 Prague $5,835
37 Sofia $5,010
38 Lima $5,073
39 Madrid $4,100
40 Phuket $5,563
41 Kuwait City $1,241
42 Abu Dhabi $2,532
43 Warsaw $4,103
44 Nairobi $2,687
45 Malaga – Costa del Sol $2,621
46 Amsterdam $3,764
47 Riyadh $1,675
48 Cairo $3,433
49 Kuala Lumpur $2,446
50 Manama $1,003
51 Johannesburg $1,085
52 Kampala $523
53 Phnom Penh $1,840
54 Addis Ababa $1,046
55 Copenhagen $3,613
56 Cape Town $2,181

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