Private pain as school fees rise

FAMILIES are struggling to pay massive hikes in fees for Sydney's Catholic and top private schools because of the most savage cuts to education funding in a generation.

Even those who send their children to prestigious Scots College, where annual tuition fees have broken through the $30,000 barrier, have not been spared and, for the first time, the school will allow parents to pay 10 monthly instalments by direct debit to ease the pain.

Thousands of families with children in Catholic schools are also feeling the impact of rising charges as fees across Sydney's west climb by an average of almost 5 per cent for 2013 - and more increases loom in the future.

Catholic education bosses say they have been hit with a double whammy because their state government funding, capped by the O'Farrell government for four years, is linked to vital federal funding.

"(It) means for every $1 of state funding lost, we stand to lose $3 dollars in federal funding," Parramatta Diocese executive director of schools Greg Whitby said. "While there is still some uncertainty about the actual amount of the loss we know this will have a substantial impact on the amount of government funding Catholic schools receive in the diocese of Parramatta.

"At a time when there is general agreement we need to invest more into the education of our young people, it is mind-boggling the NSW government plans to reduce funding to all schools in NSW."

The city's most expensive schools have almost doubled their fees in just a decade. Charges have been bumped up by more than $1000 a year since 2003, despite inflation running at just 2 per cent.

The Scots College has announced a 4.5 per cent fee hike for 2013 but most private schools grappling with the impact of the government's funding freeze have yet to fix their rates for next year.

The Daily Telegraph


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