It’s that time of year when we turn our attention to next year’s school fees at MECS. I am happy to report that in its meeting this week the Board has approved an increase in fees of just 1.5% over our 2020/2021 fees. This compares with an increase of 0% for 2021 (a decision made in the light of the COVID-19 crisis), 1.8% for 2020, 3.5% for 2019, 3% for 2018, 3.3% for 2017. The Board is very conscious of affordability issues and so is pleased that we currently have capacity to keep the increase well below the long-term average of 3.9% annually. A 1.5 % increase is also significantly lower than the ABS’s Consumer Price Index of 3.7% from June 2020 to June 2021. It is also lower than the ABS’s Education Price Index (EPI) which was also 3.7% for the 12 months to June 2021. These inflation rates have of course been affected by the impact on COVID-19 on our economy, and this is one of the reasons we have wanted to keep the fee increase below inflation.
The two main factors contributing to the limited increase for 2022 are that our student enrolment numbers have continued to be healthy and our Commonwealth funding continues to improve slightly as the funding model introduced a few years ago is almost fully rolled out. This means that we have more funds available from government recurrent funding to help us meet the budgetary pressure points. The main pressure point is that of staff salaries. Without improved enrolments and government funding we would have had to pass on more of this cost as salaries form over 70% of our expenses.
It is pleasing to keep fee increases as low as possible to keep the school affordable. But we know that affordability can become a real challenge in certain circumstances, especially in these pandemic times. The Board has a process to assist those families who are committed and find themselves in such difficult circumstances. When families who find it tough going have shown they are committed they can apply for assistance through a confidential fee assistance process that assesses the level of need (contact Craig Goldsmith in the office if you need details on how to apply).
With a lower than average increase, we remain confident that MECS fee rates are affordable compared to the fees and levies of other local independent schools. To make that comparison is not a simple thing to do because comparing fees between schools can be like comparing apples and oranges. Scholarships at other schools; our significant discounts for 2nd and 3rd children at MECS and especially our maximum family fee ceiling (rarely seen in other schools) don’t always lead to easy comparisons. We also work very hard at the ‘one fee, pays all’ approach. We don’t want to advertise one fee rate and then later ‘load on’ a whole lot of ‘hidden extras’ such as subject levies, laptop fees, and camp fees that mean the real actual rate is a lot higher. The only extras you’ll see on a MECS bill are for optional things like Instrumental Music Tuition (if your child learns an instrument) or optional VET courses. And the only other items that may come as additional costs are items such as sports tops, a small number of textbooks in secondary, and if you use the bus – our very economical transport fees.
We know that each family in our community makes a sacrifice to invest in their children’s education. We know it is not easy. We hope that for 2022 we have been effective in keeping the school affordable while at the same time keeping it sustainable. Thank you for partnering with us.
P.S. Remember if you are planning changes that mean your children won’t be enrolled in 2022 (we hope you aren’t of course as each family is a vital part of our community), you need to let us know now as that will provide the Term’s notice required.
|Fee Schedule 2022||