Brisbane is the most expensive city for a state education, survey finds

Brisbane parents spend more to send their children to government-run schools than any other Australian capital.

The survey, run by a private education scholarship firm ASG and Monash University, found Brisbane parents spent $75,600 over 13 years to send a child to a state school.

Victorian-based ASG surveyed 2300 people who took out education scholarships or loans with the firm in 2018

The company prepares its Planning for Education Index, which is complied by Melbourne’s Monash University, annually.

The index estimated the costs of various providers of education – state, church and independent – based on information in the annual Good Schools Guide.

In 2017, ASG judged Brisbane as the third-most expensive city to complete a state education but by this year it was estimated to be the most expensive place in the country to do so.

The company argued this was 10 per cent more expensive than the national average for education costs in the government sector.

That was significantly more than a state school education in Sydney ($66,470) and Melbourne ($70,604), according to the survey results.

ASG chief executive Ross Higgins said transport costs and parents’ voluntary contribution to state schools appeared to be the biggest variation in education costs between states.

“For instance in Queensland the voluntary contribution is, on average, $507 in a secondary school,” Mr Higgins said.

“And then in addition to that you have all the other ‘hidden’ costs like the costs of a uniform and electronic devices like laptops or computers, which are pretty high in Queensland.”

Mr Higgins said extra-curricular school costs were increasing at twice Brisbane’s rate of inflation of 1.8 per cent.

ASG estimated parents would spend up to $1500 on a laptop for their child at school, more than the average in Sydney or Melbourne.

The “education costs” included seven other areas of expenses: musical equipment, sports equipment, uniforms, electronic devices, excursions, transport and extra tuition classes.

In 2018 the Australian Automobile Association reported Brisbane’s traffic costs were the fastest-growing of any capital city, with the average household spending more than $19,000 per year on car and travel costs. But it still ranked behind Sydney and Melbourne on that metric.

ASG estimated Brisbane parents from 2019 would spend $34,349 over seven years at a state primary school, $41,164 at a church-based school and $37,999 at an independent school.

Not surprisingly they would spend more at secondary school: $41,251 at a state school, $73,870 at a church school and $171,621 at an independent school.

The company argued sport equipment ($432 per year), transport ($445), external tuition ($721) and electronic devices ($1,243) all cost more in Brisbane.

However, ASG found Brisbane was the most affordable when it came to independent private schools.

Its Planning for Education Index showed Brisbane ($209,608) was one of Australia’s most affordable capital cities for an independent school education, with education costs 29.8 per cent below the national average of $298,689.

Sydney was the most expensive city in Australia for an independent education, where costs soared to $461,999.

A Catholic education was also more affordable in Brisbane, the report found.

It estimated the total cost of a catholic education in Brisbane was $115,034, 9.4 per cent below the national average of $127,027.

Heidi Robertson, a client of ASG, has three children in years 2, 4 and 6 at a Brisbane state school.

“I’ve just heard the forecast costs and it’s ridiculous,” Ms Robertson said.

“You can plan for school fees, but it’s the hidden costs of education that take you by surprise, especially the excursions, camps, devices, after school activities, sports equipment and transport.”

The 2016 census showed education costs per week were highest in the Australian Capital Territory at $163 per week, with Queensland’s education costs fourth at $88 per week.

Education costs per week, 2016 census

Australian Capital Territory $163
New South Wales$108
Northern Territory$51
South Australia$84
Western Australia$138

Source: The Good Schools Guide 2019

This article originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald – Brisbane is the most expensive city for a state education, survey finds

Related article: Estimated total cost of a government, catholic and independent education revealed

One Comment

  1. Ili Bone-Reply
    July 13, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Hmm, hard to believe that one of the groups funding this study has no reason to influence results…

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