The great Australian school divide
Australia has often been thought of as two economies – east versus west. The eastern states have been powering ahead with higher GDP growth and lower unemployment while Western Australia has been met with the opposite fate.
This was evident in our recent National School Fee Report which identified the impact of the divide in the cost of non-government school education in Australia.
A tale of two sides
In WA, the average fee increase over the last year at non-government schools was 1.6%, less than the current inflation; while the average fee increase in the eastern states was more than double - with increases between 3.2% to 5.1%.
1 in 7 schools in WA have either decreased or kept their school fees the same. Compared to only 1 in 30 private schools reducing or holding fees steady in Victoria and New South Wales, seeing WA schools taking this action is unheard of.
No doubt schools are feeling the pressure from families affected by the long-running property downturn, higher levels of unemployment and the hangover from the mining boom. With some schools in WA only increasing their fees by 1-2%, and so many schools not increasing their fees at all, it is a clear reflection that WA is feeling the impact of all of those factors.
Most schools increased fees above inflation
Alongside the divide between east and west, of the 320 schools analysed across the country, over 84% increased their fees by more than the current rate of inflation.
ACT had the highest average fee increase at 5.1%, followed by VIC and NSW at 3.7% and Queensland with 3.2%. The national increase was 3.1%. By contrast, national CPI was 1.8% over the same period.
Non-government schools are vulnerable to changes in their environment such as government funding shifts and increasing operating costs. The impact of these shifts has a ripple effect on families. Those families who have already paid their first invoice for 2019 are now likely planning or thinking about how they will manage the rest of the year.
Trends in private school fees
Our goal for the School Fee Report is to put a spotlight on private school fee trends throughout Australia and help families better manage these costs, which are typically the number 1 or 2 largest household expense.
You can download the report and see our full analysis at edstart.com.au/report.