Petition concerning school fees at the British International School Istanbul
Average funding per pupil of UK state schools - £6,500
Average cost of a UK independent school - £13,194
Average class size of a UK independent School - 9
Annual fees British Embassy School Ankara - £10,000
Annual fees for Sherbourne Qatar - £11,500
Annual fees for Harrow Bangkok - £13,000
Most UK independent Schools are able to afford resources far superior to BISI, as well as funding bursaries for families who can not afford the School fees.
This letter has been approved by a Turkish Lawyer
9th December 2015
Dear Chairman and board members of British International School of Istanbul (BISI),
We felt obliged to write this letter after receiving your communication dated 27th of November 2015 indicating an unreasonable, unjustifiable and unethical school fee increase for next year’s tuition fees.
Because of the lack of transparency from school management on the justifications for this, we would like to draw your attention to following facts.
It is unreasonable because;
- Shifting from Euro to GBP introduces 12% increase in average to school fees in case paid in advance. Euro zone and UK has average inflation of 0.1% and 0.02% in 2015 respectively. This means 100 times more increase than Euro zone inflation and 500 times more than UK’s.
- BISI’s current school fee is already amongst the highest in British Int’l Schools of Istanbul. Taking 2015-16 annual fee of Year 7-8-9 as reference point, , BISI fee is 23990 Euro while TarabyaBritish school fee is 19439 Euro. If we compare primary fees, BISI primary fee is 23260 Euro whileTarabya’s primary fee is 16720 Euro
- BISI’s school fee is also far more than other British schools in the region comparable to Istanbul in terms of living expenses. According to Mercer’s 2015 city ranking for most expensive cities; Istanbul ranks 99. Doha and Jakarta also share the same ranking while Frankfurt is at 98th rank. Taking 2015-16 annual fee of Year 7-8-9 as reference point, BISI fee is 23,990 Euro while British Int’l School Jakarta fee is 19545 Euro* and British College of Doha fee is 16,690 Euro* (*converted by Yahoo exchange converter to Euro as fees are at local currency!)and Frankfurt International School fee is 20,055 Euro.
It is unjustifiable because;
- BISI increased the school fees continuously. Taking secondary as a reference; in 2013, by converting the payment currency from USDollar to Euro, fees increased by 12%. In 2014 by 6%. In 2015 by 4% and now 12% in 2016. In just 4 years with a fees increase of 34%, one might think that school education and facilities should have improved a lot. The unfortunate fact is, the school does not still have full time operational swimming pool, canteen area is below any acceptable standards, the primary section has unbearable smell due to improper drainage system( and the teaching resources, field trips, extra curricula activities and all the additional aspects of education that comparable schools have are either outdated, in a poor state of repair or not provided)
- There is no visibility on teachers’ salary increase in the past and how much increase it is intended for the next year
- We realise that Euro lost 17% value against USD. But it gained 9% against TL. And since 2009/10 school fees increased almost by 137% in TL. As school’s major costs are expected to be in local currency (such as local staff’s and Turkish teachers’ salaries, security, maintenance, landscape, food…etc.) these savings bringadditional profit to the schools bottom line.
- Most International Schools who are charging parents in hard currencies do not increase school fees much above the rate of inflation in their chosen currency. The ones which increase school fees are typically the ones charging in local currencies.
- Investing in school facilities and teachers is critical for the owner of BISI to keep the school competitive, satisfy parents and students and thus attract new students. As current parents and students are not the shareholders of BISI benefiting from the profit, investment to school should be on the account of the owner and not a justification to increase the fees. On the contrary, we expect from owner to re-invest part of the profit back to BISI, willingly!
It is unethical because;
- Most expat families are not paid in GBP, and no one is getting 12% salary increase if salaries are paid in Euro.
- There is no clear school policy limiting yearly increase leaving this decision totally to the mercy of the owner, which is difficult for budgeting for both families and companies.
- Current students and their parents are to a degree locked in to the school (mainly the ones going to year 12/13). Changing a school is obviously a difficult decision and benefiting from this is totally unacceptable.
- Showing only profit concerns and not showing any passion for education is simply not right. e.g. Sibling discount is applied by almost all schools with the understanding of the difficulty for a family to effort school fees of multiple children. Therefore it is applied unconditional. But in BISI, applying Sibling discount only after second year is a sign for valuing a loyal customer rather than helping crowded families.
As a conclusion, as concerned families of BISI community, we expect the Best Education and Value against already very high fees we are paying to BISI instead of hearing unrealistic excuses to introduce new increases with the aim of improved profits. Therefore, we would like BISI chairman and board members to revert the currency back to Euro while keeping the same fees of 2015/16 for next year. We also would like to see a clear policy limiting possible increase of fees. This is for the sake of providing required transparency to allow us to make sound decision for choosing this school for our kids’ education.
Otherwise, we are seriously concerned about the possible following consequences carrying on with these decisions
- Many students may leave the school by the next educational year negatively effecting the school’s revenue, causing churn of teachers and deteriorating school’s education and overall quality
- BISI’s reputation being negatively affected due to word of mouth among the expat communities and the companies we work for and making it harder if not impossible to gain new students, as well as having knock on affects for the prospects of the Alumni.
- Causing publicly complaints attracting audits from local and tax authorities
- Attracting COBIS attention to these issues and risking license renewal of BISI.
We urge board members to meet the owner and reverse this unacceptable decision and instead, to take necessary actions to optimise the running costs, find appropriate ways to improve teachers’ motivation by making BISI free speech centric and not fear centric, by re-investing part of the profit to improve BISI’s facilities to be competitive to other International schools to attract more students thus leverage more profits.
We await your final decision on next year fee as well as a transparent policy for future years fee increase limits to allow us to make our decision about BISI.
Parents and other stakeholders of BISI