Boarding schools across regional Qld cutting fees
REGIONAL boarding schools across the state are offering discounts and incentives to maintain enrolments as parents struggle to come up with high fees amid drought and the mining downturn.
Catholic boys' school St Brendan's College in Yeppoon is this year offering a 50 per cent discount on boarding fees for the first 20 new Year 7 and Year 10 students.
The college said it "recognises that drought and the mining downturn have affected the income of many parents and their confidence for future income", as well as the "additional financial burden" of the introduction of Year 7 into high school.
Warwick's 100-year-old Scots PGC College last year announced it was lowering fees for similar reasons.
Queensland has 52 boarding schools - the most of any state - with just under 7000 boarders last year.
St Brendan's College business manager Gordon Porter said the 12-month discount on the $15,500 annual boarding fee - which comes on top of the $5700 tuition fee - had attracted new students, but places were still available.
"The reason we can offer it is because we have spare capacity. It's a help for families, and in return, we hopefully boost numbers and get a longer-term student," Mr Porter said.
Queensland's largest boarding school, The Rockhampton Grammar School, has 328 boarders this year, with capacity for more.
It has kept a lid on fees, with just a 2 per cent increase to $28,600 a year for senior boarding, tuition and levies.
"We try to look after our families by offering an education that is accessible to the whole community," headmaster Dr Phillip Moulds said.
"I think there are some families who traditionally would have come in Year 8 who are now coming in Year 10.
"I think it's a financial and an emotional burden - families are not prepared to send them away that year earlier."
In Toowoomba, The Glennie School, where senior boarding and tuition costs about $34,000 a year, principal Kim Cohen said families were making huge sacrifices and schools were responding with payment plans and bursaries.
She said Glennie expected about 160 boarders this year and had capped fee increases so parents knew how much they would be paying in advance.
"Like all schools in Toowoomba, we have space for more," she said.
Australian Boarding Schools Association executive director Richard Stokes said boarder numbers were slightly up in Queensland over the past couple of years but were still down historically.
He predicted that some schools would merge in years ahead.
"Especially in regional areas where there are two or three boys' boarding schools and two or three girls' schools, you will see mergers to make them co-ed," he said.