There are few better investments than a good education. That perhaps explains why the very best schools in the world are so expensive these days, with the most premium ones costing up to six figures each year.
What might surprise is the fact that these pricey places of learning are all concentrated in Switzerland rather than a traditional bastion of private education like Britain.
Their geographical location aside, here are the seven most expensive schools in the world and a small idea of what you get for your money.
Institut Le Rosey Where: Rolle, Switzerland
Cost: US$129,192 per year
What do the highest school fees in the world get you? How about a medieval château for a main campus, a winter retreat in the picturesque ski resort of Gstaad and a sailing centre along Lake Geneva. As well as having fabulous facilities, Le Rosey is truly international. A quota system ensures no more than 10 per cent of the student body comes from any one country.
Collège Alpin Beau Soleil Where: Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland Cost: US$129,328 per year
Often considered one of the world’s most exclusive schools, Beau Soleil has an enviable list of alumni that includes the likes of French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, two princes of Luxembourg, Princess Marie of Denmark, and former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Eye-watering though the fees are, that is not the end of the story. The uniform package costs an extra 6,000 Swiss francs (US$6,200) as on Mondays pupils must wear a more fancy uniform compared to their standard one.
Aiglon College Where: Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland Cost: US$120,463 per year
This school, which sits high in the Swiss Alps, 1,250 metres above Lausanne, is modelled on traditional British boarding schools. It was founded in 1949 by John C Corlette, who had experience teaching at Gordonstoun, the Scottish independent school now famous for educating Prince Charles. Gordonstoun emphasises outdoor activities and that is something Corlette brought with him to Switzerland too – students must undertake expeditions every term, with activities including camping, hiking, rock-climbing, mountaineering and kayaking.
St George’s International School Where: Montreux, Switzerland Cost: US$108,646 per year
Given its name, it’s unsurprising that St George’s was founded by two English graduates of Oxford University, Lorna Southwell and Osyth Potts. Established in 1927, the pair hoped to build a school where students of all nationalities could live and grow together, and avoid repeating the conflict that generated the First World War. That heritage is alive and well, with the student body typically comprising about 50 nationalities who adhere to a timetable based on the British national curriculum.
Leysin American School Where: Leysin, Switzerland Cost: US$103,254 per year
Despite its name, only about 12 per cent of students at Leysin are American. A hugely multicultural school, the institution is home to students from about 60 countries. Class sizes are small – typically around 12 pupils – and the student to teacher ratio is an excellent 8:1. In 2008 the school bought the Grand Hotel in Leysin, a Belle Époque structure built in 1890 as a posh hotel and sanatorium for the world’s rich. After two years of renovations the building reopened as the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) campus.
Collège du Léman Where: Versoix, Switzerland Cost: US$96,475 per year
When you see this school’s 10 hectares of landscaped grounds, situated between the Jura Mountains and Lac Léman, you understand why the fees are so hefty. It’s not just stunning scenery that Collège du Léman has in its favour, though. The facilities are world class and include a 5,000-square metre gymnasium. Pupils can learn how to sail – an activity that teaches “teamwork, leadership and purpose” – on the lake and enter regattas throughout the year.
Brillantmont International School Where: Lausanne, Switzerland Cost: US$89,695 per year
Located in the centre of Lausanne, Brillantmont is one of Switzerland’s oldest boarding schools, having been established in 1882. The student body is relatively small, typically about 100 boarders and a further 50 day students. There are regular weekend excursions to allow students to explore Switzerland and nearby countries in Europe.
Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.