The pandemic has taken a swipe at parents who send their kids to private schools, with up to 30 per cent of families on fee ‘life support’.
The pandemic has taken a swipe at parents who send their kids to private schools, with up to 30 per cent of families on fee ‘life support’.

Private school families on fee ‘life support’

Some private schools in Victoria have up to 30 per cent of families on fee "life support", with financial relief extending into 2021.

But the screws are tightening on embattled parents, with some institutions demanding

"restitution" repayments of deferred fees by the end of the year.

Prushka Fast Debt Recovery chief executive Roger Mendelson said schools would start to ramp up collections by early next year as covid bankruptcy protection measures end.

Despite this, student numbers in the independent sector are holding steady, with more than 151,000 children enrolled for next year.

However, frozen fees for 2021, a lack of international students and fee rebates of up to $5 million are threatening the financial viability of some institutions.

Some school are forecasting a drop in student numbers of up to 11 per cent from next year.

State schools such as Auburn High, which has gone from 200 to 700 students in recent years, are also reporting a drift from private institutions.

Ivanhoe Grammar has seen a ‘significant’ impact on enrolments because of COVID-19. Picture: Eugene Hyland
Ivanhoe Grammar has seen a ‘significant’ impact on enrolments because of COVID-19. Picture: Eugene Hyland

Loretta Wholley, president of Catholic Secondary Principals Australia, said "schools' incomes have been noticeably impacted by parents needing fee relief".

"In some schools it has been a huge impact especially if they were in a regional area affected by sudden high unemployment," she said.

Trinity Grammar in Kew has waived $5 million in fees this year.

The state's 31 boarding schools, and those heavily reliant on Victoria's 10,000 overseas student enrolments, have been hit the hardest.

Richard Stokes, CEO of the Australian Boarding Schools Association, said 2022 was looming "as a bigger concern than 2021".

Principal of Ivanhoe Grammar Gerard Foley said his school's high domestic numbers were "unprecedented" but the effect of covid had been "significant" on international student revenue.

Auburn High shows a drift from private to state schools, which has gone from 200 to 700 students in recent years. Picture: Nicki Connolly.
Auburn High shows a drift from private to state schools, which has gone from 200 to 700 students in recent years. Picture: Nicki Connolly.

Michelle Green, chief executive of independent Schools Victoria, said that "while all independent schools have been affected by COVID-19 and its economic impact, the nature and extent of the impact varies widely".

Jim Miles, executive director of Catholic Education Melbourne, said he didn't expect enrolments to be impacted by the pandemic.

One new school opening next year is St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Werribee, which will have around 110 students. Principal Shelley Ryan said she had been delighted by the community support for the new school.

 

Originally published as Private school families on fee 'life support'



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