Private school education to crack $500,000 barrier

There is a ritual in Australian media reports on education. It is January, so it is ‘Back to School’ commentary and time for the ‘Rising Costs’ ritual. Right on time, the Murdoch Press obliges, with information on the rising costs of private – and ‘free’ public education for parents.

This year, the facts and figures are especially poignant for aspirational parents struggling with rising house prices, stagnant wages and an economy suffering stagflation and decline.

Financial services group ASG, which provides education loans to parents and grandparents, a nationwide surveyof more than 13,500 families has found overall private education costs have jumped as much as 61 per cent over the past decade. In ‘faith-based schools’, costs increased as much as 54%. The average cost of putting a child through private school in a capital city has been forecast to top $475,000, while Sydney and Melbourne families could see their education bills reach ­almost $550,000. Public school costs have also risen substantially. Melbourne is the most expensive city for ­public education, where the cost of educating a child from kindergarten to Year 12 is estimated at $75,000, 13 per cent higher than the national average. The survey asked parents to estimate costs associated with their children’s education, including tuition fees and levies, uniforms, books and stationery, travel, technology, excursions, camps and extra-­curricular activities.[i]


The figures are not good for business so the independent Schools Council of Australia have questioned the ASG data, claiming it risked misrepresenting the cost of independent schooling. Council executive director ­Colette Colman said independent school costs varied greatly, ‘with the majority of them much more affordable than modelling like ASG’s suggests’.

These figures may persuade parents and grandparents to pay money into an ASG loan fund. But they may also persuade them to shop around for value for their educational buck. And it is not unsurprising that the local p0ublic school has become a definite option for many middle class as well as disadvantaged parents.

But pity the Australian parents who have forgotten to fight for perhaps the most precious inheritance they can give their children : A Free Education. Whatever happened to this noble ideal?