By Evie Andreou
THE American International School’s decision to increase fees by €750 a year has been met with dismay by parents who say the school is already the most expensive private school on the island.
The Nicosia school has described the increase as a building development fee which they say is necessary because they want to move out of the current rented premises to another location and build new facilities.
But parents have complained that the increase cannot be justified in a time of economic crisis. The increase also apparently counters a circular issued by the education ministry in February asking private schools not to increase fees for the 2014-15 school year and to actually decrease them by 0.82 per cent.
A parent, whose twin son and daughter are at the school, expressed his dismay and said that the school’s tuition is already a lot higher than the only other private school in Cyprus that offers the International Baccalaureate diploma (IB).
“The tuition fees are more than €13,000, while the fees at the other private school which offers the IB are €8,500,” said the parent on Monday.
Moving his children to the other school, however, is not an easy option as he is concerned how this might affect his children’s current high academic performances only a year away from graduating.
The school, operated by the Educational Services Overseas Limited (ESOL), first announced the increase at the end of last month. In July, parents received a second message with a comparison table showing how American International Schools’ tuition fees and development levies varied around the world with most of them higher than the fees in Cyprus.
“But the table shows tuition fees in places like Bern and Zurich; there is no comparison between these places and Cyprus. The average salary there is five times the salaries in Cyprus,” the parent said.
After receiving complaints from parents, the education ministry sent a letter to the school questioning the increase and
mentioning the circular on fee increases sent to all private schools in February.
Dr Niki Papadopoulou-Papa of the education ministry’s private education department told the Cyprus Mail on Monday that the circular had made clear that the schools had to submit their fees and other charges for 2014-15 to the ministry for approval by March 15. If the school wanted to leave its fees at the same levels or introduce a decrease less than the 0.82 per cent mentioned in the circular, they had to justify their decision and provide the necessary documentation.
“Schools cannot just raise tuition fees without permission from the ministry; we have sent a letter to the school and we are waiting for their response. There will be a discussion and we hope that the issue will be resolved soon,” said Papadopoulou-Papa.
In an initial letter to parents, the school had announced a €1,000 building development fee per student per year for non-Cypriot students and €500 a year for Cypriot nationals. But after complaints from non-Cypriot nationals, it was decided that all students would pay €750 per year.
The school was unavailable for comment yesterday.