Report reveals parental contributions to education

Monday, 31 October 2011

Monday, 31 October 2011: Parents provide the majority of the resources of independent schools in Australia, a new report by Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Public Policy Institute (PPI) has found.

The research also revealed that families who choose a non-government school come from all income levels and social classes, and the investment of private resources has positive effects on the quality of Australian schooling, on equity in schooling, and on the public purse. 

“The research shows that encouraging private investment in schooling is good for society as well as individual students,” said Professor Scott Prasser, Executive Director of the PPI. 

Contributions from parents account for 58 per cent of the recurrent income of independent schools, and 28 per cent of the income of Catholic systemic schools. 

“This private investment greatly increases the total resources available for education and frees up public funds for other purposes,” Professor Prasser said. “It’s time to turn on its head the view that it is wrong to spend personal income on education. The funding mechanism used by the Commonwealth for non-government schools has encouraged this private investment from families with the capacity to pay. As a result, the social mix and diversity of the sector have greatly expanded.” 

“This is because public funding for non-government schools from Commonwealth and State governments, ranging from a base grant of as little as $1,750 per student in a high fee school, brings non-government schooling within the reach of more families. 

“On average, a student in an independent school receives $6,100 in public funds, compared with $13,544 for a government school student. In the highest income brackets, families are equally likely to choose a government or non-government school. In the lowest income brackets, choice is more constrained, but nevertheless one quarter of families in low and middle income groups are prepared to invest a large share of their discretionary income in school fees. 

"This commitment to education pays off thanks to the better education outcomes that are achieved at non-government schools. The really important issue now is how the current Gonski Review of school funding is going to consider parental contributions to education in its recommendations on future funding arrangements." 

The Parental Contributions to Education is available at


Launch of Parental Contributions to Education paper


3 November at 10.30am


Tenison Woods Room

Mary MacKillop Place, 7-11 Mount Street, North Sydney 

If you would like to attend, or arrange an interview with Professor Scott Prasser, please contact Alisse Grafitti, National Media Manager, on (02)9739 2513 or