Melbourne Public School Fees the Highest in Australia as Back-to-School Bills Pile Up

‘The impact has been very pronounced with inflation high,’ Futurity’s chief executive said.
Melbourne Public School Fees the Highest in Australia as Back-to-School Bills Pile Up
School kids cross a road while a traffic warden stops cars in Albany, Western Australia, on Sept. 18, 2023. (Susan Mortimer/The Epoch Times)

Parents in Melbourne will need to fork out about $15,000 (US$9,841) more than other states and territories in Australia to send their children to public schools.

According to new figures, the education expense for a child to complete 13 years of schooling in government schools in Melbourne is $108,879 (US$71,434), an increase of $6,000, or 22 percent, since 2022.

This is about $14,000 more than the second-most expensive city, Sydney, where education expenses are at $94,819.

Meanwhile, Canberra is the most expensive city for Catholic schooling, with parents having to pay $208,871 over 13 years, followed by Brisbane and Perth.

Independent education expenses were highest in Sydney, with students accumulating $324,559 in education fees by the time they graduate from high school. This marks a $20,000 increase from the previous year.

The most affordable cities for education are Canberra for government schools at $81,564, Sydney for Catholic schools at $188,759, while Perth is the least expensive city for independent schools at $225,728.

School Fees Consistent With Inflation

Futurity chief executive Sam Sondhi said high inflation was the main factor behind the increasing cost of schooling, and that parents were bearing the brunt of the rising costs of ancillary expenses involved in education.

“[The increases in education] have been pretty consistent with the rates of inflation, and we’ve seen that increase in the last year by about six percent for ancillary costs,” he told AAP.

“The impact has been very pronounced with high inflation.”

He also noted the cost of devices over the past decade has increased significantly as children are being “educated in more tech-savvy ways.”

Victorian opposition education spokeswoman Jess Wilson said it is unacceptable that Victorian families have to pay more compared to their interstate counterparts.

“Victorian families deserve an education system that is not only affordable but will equip students with the key skills they need to live full and successful lives.”

Meanwhile, research by the Smith Family showed nine in 10 families are concerned their children would miss out on back-to-school essentials, with more than half of parents worried they couldn’t afford the digital devices their children need.

“The families we support make impossible decisions every day about how to prioritise the limited resources they have,” CEO Doug Taylor said.

“Educational essentials like uniforms, books, a laptop, and the internet are increasingly hard to afford.”

Belinda, a mum of four, said her family had to use an education loan to keep up with the increasing grocery, electricity, phone, and internet bills.

“It has become so hard at the end of the year, just before Christmas when the schools release the uniform, book lists and now technology requirements and I think how on earth are we going to pay for this?” she said.

NAB head of customer vulnerability, Mike Chambers, noted that the beginning of the school year is a particularly stressful time for families.

It’s when “the full impact of festive spending hits just as families are facing new costs and long lists of back-to-school expenses they quickly have to meet,” he said.

AAP contributed to this report.
Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at [email protected].
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