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RPT-Top EU schools see applications dip as COVID compounds Brexit delays

Thu, 3rd Sep 2020 06:42

(Repeats to additional subscribers, no changes to text)

* Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam schools await UK enrolment
boom

* Pandemic changing the way some families view relocation

* Some relocating students priced out of international
schools

By Sinead Cruise

LONDON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic has
forced some British-based families to put Brexit-related plans
to move to the European Union on hold, leaving some top
international schools wondering when a predicted surge in new
applications will materialise.

Thousands of staff - and their school-age children - could
relocate from London as financial firms reorganise to maintain a
presence in the European single market, and this had been
expected to benefit schools in the region.

But as the new academic year begins, three of the most
prestigious institutions in the EU said they had yet to see a
landslide in enrolment requests from UK-based families before
Britain finally cuts ties with the bloc on Dec. 31.

"The double impact of COVID-19 and Brexit is impacting the
way globally mobile families approach relocation," Caroline
MacDonald, Director of Advancement at the American School of
Paris (ASP), told Reuters.

"While some of our families arrived in France soon after
Brexit was announced, there's not been a marked increase in
families rushing to move before the end of the transition
period," she said.

The American School of Paris, which teaches an American
curriculum to students aged 3-18, and where fees range from
19,000 to 35,150 euros per year, welcomed just eight new
students from Britain when its campus reopened on Aug. 26.

This reflected a dip in applications from families linked to
embassies, institutions such as the European Banking Authority,
and private firms in France.

The slower-than-expected pace of enrolment has also been
seen in Frankfurt and Amsterdam, where several global financial
firms and EU institutions such as the European Medicines Agency
have moved from Britain.

Some employers may also be reluctant to support pricey fees.

"We've found a lot of children of families educated in the
UK and then relocated to Amsterdam have been subject to
financial restrictions on school options they could go for,"
said Paul Morgan, head of the British School of Amsterdam.

The British School of Amsterdam - where annual fees range
from 15,840 to 16,980 euros - still has vacancies in its infant
school, according to its website as at Sept. 1.

NO HURRY TO MOVE

One source at a major international bank said it was giving
staff "as long as possible" to relocate to avoid unnecessary
disruption.

But global banks in Britain are under pressure from European
regulators to move key staff to their new EU hubs without delay,
despite COVID-19.

Paul Fochtman, Head of the Frankfurt International School
(FIS), said his institution, whose staff and students represent
more than 50 nationalities and where annual fees range between
20,730 and 25,700 euros, is still waiting for a Brexit
applications boom.

He said some Brexit-related relocations due to happen in the
2019/2020 academic year were put on hold due to COVID, and the
rate of Brexit-linked applications to the school for the
2020/2021 year also declined compared to pre-COVID levels.

Around 10 students planning to join the FIS from Britain in
August had deferred their arrival until January, with a few of
those potentially deferring again until August 2021.

Fochtman said demand for places from families of other
nationalities moving to Germany instead of Britain was on the
rise, offsetting the smaller numbers of UK-to-EU applications
also seen in Paris and Amsterdam.

Some 40% of the new enrolment at the ASP this year was from
families moving to France from around Europe, MacDonald said.

"We haven't seen that huge surge that you might have
imagined after Brexit, when we were all thinking about what
might happen. I can't tell you that we have seen any bigger
demand than in previous years," Morgan said.
(Reporting by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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