Parents in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT face higher increases of between 3 and 4.26%, while schools in South Australia blocked the lowest average increase of 0, 91%.
But annual fee increases have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, Victorian private school tuition fees increased by an average of 3.68%, followed by an increase of 3.16% in 2020.
Figures are taken from Edstart’s Tuition Fees Report 2022, which is based on analysis of tuition, boarding and compulsory fees at 538 Australian independent and Catholic schools, including 135 Victorian schools.
Mr Stevens said the annual pattern that had taken hold before the pandemic, with schools raising fees above the rate of inflation, had ceased.
“I think the days of schools raising tuition fees by 5 and 6%, which they used to do, are probably over. What we’re hearing from parents this year is that this level of fee increase is likely expected,” Stevens said.
But Melbourne-based education consultant Paul O’Shannassy, who advises families on their choice of non-government schools, said two years of lockdown and distance learning had led some parents to wonder why they were paying such high fees.
He said that was especially the case when extracurricular activities such as weekend sports, camps, music and theater were unavailable.
“In previous years, every year the letter was sent with a 3.5 per cent fee increase, it was just standard and people just accepted it,” Mr O’Shannassy said.
“But this year people are saying, ‘Wait a minute, you’ve saved a fortune on camps and sports and so on. ”
Many fee-paying schools lost revenue when they waived or reduced fees for families who suffered financial losses during the closures but would likely seek to end the practice, Mr O’Shannassy said.
Some also received millions of dollars in federal JobKeeper grants, before later posting surpluses.
For some families, tuition fees of more than $30,000 a year are not a barrier to enrolling, but some people who cannot afford it seek out a reputable public school for their children and also invest in tuition. individuals, Mr. O’Shannassy said.
Emma Rowe, a senior lecturer in education at Deakin University who has researched school choice in Australia, said many parents were not deterred by the sometimes high cost of sending their children to a non-governmental school.
“It’s almost something of a status creator; the higher the fees, the higher the perceived barriers to enrolling in a particular school, the greater the sense of prestige. It’s not really a rational process all the time,” Dr Rowe said.
Parents are often motivated by a school’s religion and values, or by a desire for their children to access social and professional networks, she said.
The report also reveals that fee increases for this year have not been uniform. For example, co-educational and all-girls schools in Victoria increased their fees by an average of about 2.7%, while all-boys schools increased them by 4.56%, which is well above the inflation.
North Melbourne has the lowest median fee of $8,159 this year, but the biggest increase – 4.49%.
Regional schools in Victoria are raising their tuition fees by an average of 2.31% to a median amount of $9,397 this year.
Thirty-six per cent of Victorian pupils attended a non-government school in 2020, according to the most recent national data, which was above the national average of 34.4 per cent and just behind the ACT.
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