Australia Today

Victorian Public Schools Make $570 Per Student Per Year. Private Schools Make $15,000.

New data has revealed Victorian private schools earn almost 30 times what public schools earn from fees and parent contributions.
All Australian private schools are overfunded.

New data has revealed the gap between parent contributions in public and private schools is widening the divide between the sectors. Public schools earned $570 per student in 2022 from fees and voluntary contributions, while private schools got $15,000, despite already being overfunded by governments.

Data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) shows that in 2022, government funding made up 96.3 per cent of public school income, 76.4 per cent of Catholic school income, and 48.7 per cent of private school income.


Public schools' income from fees and contributions per student was $570 that year. In contrast, Catholic schools received $4751 per student in combined income and private schools got $15,151 per student – almost 30 times what public schools get in the so-called education state.

And that’s on average. Caulfield Grammar School raked in the highest net income per student in 2022 at $31,006 from fees, charges and parent contributions, translating to more than $111 million in total.

But all that extra money doesn’t necessarily translate to a better education.

Caulfield Grammar’s median VCE subject study score in 2022 was 33. Cranbourne East Secondary College also had a median study score of 33, but its income per student was $290.

This gap is partly because private school fees are rising. The cost of attending Australia’s most expensive private school for a single year tipped over $50,000 for the first time in 2024, and some institutions raised their fees by almost 20 per cent on last year.

But according to the Schooling Resource Standard — an estimate of how much public funding a school requires to meet its students’ educational needs – all Australian public schools are underfunded while all Australian private schools are overfunded.


In 2023, public schools were funded 92.2 per cent but private schools were funded 105.17 per cent. In dollars, this means in 2024 public schools will be underfunded by about $6.8 billion, while private schools will be overfunded by about $1 billion, according to advocacy group Save Our Schools.

Public school fees, for what’s meant to be “free education”, are also higher in Victoria than in any other state or territory.

Families in Victoria spent $367.2 million on public education in 2022, which is $85.2 million more than families in NSW where the population is also larger. Victorian parents’ school spending has risen 55 per cent since 2009.

It’s true that in Victoria, paying tuition isn’t mandatory in public schools and schools aren’t allowed to imply they are. But the reality is that as the cost of living increases, more parents will opt for lower or no-fee options, meaning public schools will have less and less money and will continue to be grossly underfunded.

The Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace told the Age this was a governmental failure and the quality of schooling shouldn’t be dependent on voluntary contributions to fill in the gaps.

“Schools being reliant on parents’ voluntary contributions is no way for governments to fund public schools and ensure every child can access high-quality educational programs,” she said.

Aleksandra Bliszczyk is the Deputy Editor of VICE Australia. Follow her on Instagram.

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