|For more information on school funding visit: National Schools Resourcing Board and Quality Schools Package|
WHAT DOES A SCHOOL EDUCATION COST?
Most people underestimate the cost of educating children and young people in Australian schools.
In 2021 the minimum (or “base”) cost of school education for every Australian student without disadvantage is:
- $12,099 for a primary student, and
- $15,204 for a secondary student
Students in priority cohorts and disadvantaged schools attract higher amounts of funding to respond to specific needs and enable priority students to achieve their full potential.
Per student funding is called “recurrent funding” and it must be spent directly on students, staff and operating costs.
WHO PAYS FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION?
Responsibility for funding the per student cost of education is shared by the Australian Government, by state and territory governments and by parents and non-government school communities.
- The Australian Government provides more than half of per student funding for Catholic schools, while private income is the principal source of independent schools’ funding.
- Government school students are mainly funded by governments, with state and territory governments contributing 75% of total per student funding for government schools
HOW IS PER STUDENT FUNDING CALCULATED?
SCHOOLING RESOURCE STANDARD (SRS)
The Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) is calculated by Base Funding reduced by the Capacity to Contribute plus Loadings as shown below:
The SRS benchmark establishes the minimum cost of educating each Australian student. This minimum amount is called “base” funding. In 2021 base funding per student is:
For non-government schools, per student base funding is means tested. These schools are required to raise between 10% and 80% of base funding privately, through fees and other private contributions.
How much a school must contribute to base funding depends on the median income of the school’s parents. This is called “Capacity to Contribute” and it only applies to non-government schools. Because base funding is means tested, government support for non-government schools is reduced by the same amount as each school’s private capacity to contribute.
|RELATED PAGE: WHAT IS THE DIRECT MEASURE OF INCOME?|
WHO RECEIVES ADDITIONAL FUNDING?
Additional funding called “Loadings” are added to base funding for students in priority cohorts and disadvantaged schools to address specific needs that individual students face. Loadings are not reduced by non-government school capacity to contribute, so that students in priority cohorts can attract the same loadings regardless of the schools they attend.
Four types of students and two types of schools attract loadings:
- Students with disability
- Students with low English proficiency
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students
- Students facing socio-educational disadvantage
- Small schools
- Regional and remote schools
On average, loadings comprise approximately 22% of total funding for Catholic schools, however the number and proportion of students from priority cohorts varies widely from school to school.
- Every school in Australia is moving to the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).
- However, some schools are currently funded above the SRS for historic reasons, and some are funded below the SRS.
- Governments have agreed to a transition period to enable schools to adjust to lower/higher SRS funding.
- In 2020 all schools began transition to the new funding model, with full alignment to SRS funding expected by 2029.
WHO PAYS FOR ADDITIONAL FACILITIES?
In addition to the $68 billion cost of educating students (called recurrent funding), schools incur additional costs for classrooms, libraries, sports facilities, maintenance and other capital projects (called capital funding).
In 2019, Australian schools spent $7.6 billion on capital projects.
- Catholic and independent school parents and communities must raise the costs of capital projects privately, although disadvantaged schools can apply for assistance through government grants.
- In contrast, government school capital costs are mainly funded by state and territory governments with a small contribution from parents.