Elite schools seek strength in sterling's weakness

Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:52pm EST
 
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By Martina Fuchs

LONDON (Reuters) - Jackie Prosser is a determined mother. Working in fashion, she says she is highly exposed to the global recession, but plans to cut back on other treats to keep her seven-year old at his fee-paying school.

"Pulling my boy out of the school is the last resort," said Prosser, who is head of the Parents' Association at Cheadle Hulme School near Manchester, where basic fees range from 2,230-2,876 pounds ($3,096-3,994) per term.

As the slowdown deepens, some of Britain's private schools are feeling the pinch -- even Eton College which has educated the elite for centuries has set aside emergency funds to help tide over cash-strapped parents.

Applications so far are not a problem, say many of the larger establishments that have built a franchise in educating the offspring of the world's wealthy and ambitious.

But mindful of the extent to which modern fortunes have been built on debt, Eton -- a boys-only school founded in 1440 -- has made preparations to help parents with its 9,360 pound termly lodging and tuition fees.

Some schools also hope the weak pound could assist those overseas parents who want to buy a British education.

"It remains to be seen whether some parents withdraw, but we have already promised assistance to a number of boys and we have reserved funds to help as many new applicants as possible with bursaries if they are needed," Andrew Wynn, the bursar of the college, told Reuters.

Smaller private schools in rural areas are already under threat and some could face closure, headmasters and researchers say. Sue Fieldman, editor of the Good Schools Guide publication, said more than 12 schools in northern England had closed or merged since September 2008.   Continued...

 
<p>Britain's Prince Harry, the younger son of the Prince of Wales, sits in his room at Eton College, Windsor as he polishes the boots that he wears while taking part in the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) in this June 7, 2003 file picture. As global recession deepens, some British fee-paying schools are feeling the pinch - even Eton College which has groomed the elite for centuries has set aside emergency funds to help tide over cash-strapped parents. To match feature FINANCIAL/BRITAIN-SCHOOLS REUTERS/Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool/Files</p>