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Tuition fees at some independent schools rising higher than inflation

January 21, 2016 News

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Tuition fees at some of Australia’s top private schools continue to soar at almost double the rate of inflation, with one increasing costs by 6.7 per cent.

While not all major independent schools have published their fees for 2016, a sample of those that have show average increases of about 4 per cent for year 12. Inflation is at 1.5 per cent.

Melbourne Girls Grammar had the largest increase, with fees rising 6.7 per cent to $32,736.

In 2015 the school increased fees by 4.9 per cent.

In Sydney, parents at Reddam House, which has been accused by the Independent Education Union of underpaying its teachers, will face a 4.5 per cent increase, to $29,310. This is the same increase as last year.

Year 12 fees at MLC Sydney, whose principal resigned this month after pressure from parents and students, have risen 4 per cent to $28,485.

St Aloysius fees will increase 5 per cent to $16,744 and Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), by 4.8 per cent to $28,620.

Some schools, such as Scotch College in Adelaide, offered parents the option to pre-pay for the next year, securing fees at the current year’s rates.

HALF A MILLION COST

Earlier this week The Australian Scholarships Group released its Planning for Education Index, which found the total cost of education for a child born in 2016 attending a private school would be $552,351 in Sydney, $512,283 in Melbourne, $393,870 in Perth, $365,976 in Adelaide and $360,044 in Brisbane.

The report found the estimated metropolitan fees-only independent school costs for 2015 nationally was $19,014 a year for secondary schooling per student.

The NSW average was $22,280 and in Victoria the average was $21,443 a year.

According to data by the Independent Schools Council of Australia the median price for private school fees per student is $5887 nationally.

It found only 10 per cent of independent schools nationally charged above $20,000 a year.

ISCA executive director Colette Colman said fees for independent schools varied greatly, with the majority of them much more affordable than suggested by modelling such as ASG’s.

“ASG also stated that in 2015 the national metropolitan upper-range figure parents could expect to pay in secondary school fees was $19,014 per annum”, Ms Colman said.

“However, our data shows that in 2014 the median Australian metropolitan Independent school fee was $5887 per annum. Nationally, nearly three quarters of metropolitan Independent schools are charging below $10,000 per annum.”

GLOBAL COMPETITION

NSW Parents’ Council chief executive Noel Hadjimichael said if the fee increase above inflation was a one-off then it would be something to be worried about but it has been occurring for many years and parents factor it in.

“It’s not an uncommon phenomenon,” Mr Hadjimichael said.

“The cost of education is factored into parents’ decisions when deciding on a school. It’s the reality of the education market. The CPI increase would barely meet some of the fixed costs of the schools and many get less funding from the public purse.”

Mr Hadjimichael said it was not as if parents did not notice the cost of schooling increasing, rather they recognised that quality and comprehensive education costs.

He said a number of independent schools were competing on a global market and the education provided was comparable to the top schools in the United Kingdom and United States.

“Many independent schools offer more than just 9am to 3pm education, rather [they offer] an abundance of extra curricular activites.

“Many of those schools are just as busy before 9am and up to 6pm as they are during the school day,” he said. “The reality is parents have a choice.”

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