Drift to independent schools to become a flood
A new analysis shows that competition between private schools for a smaller pool of students will intensify in the next five years, with the independent sector in NSW on track to equal the market share held by Catholic schools.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that by 2010, independent schools in NSW will educate 17.5% of the state's 1.1 million students, close to the Catholic systemic school share of 18.8%.
This would represent a three percentage point growth in independent school enrolments - or 36,000 extra students - since 2003.
All schools are about to feel the impact of Australia's declining birthrate, which by 2008 will see student enrolments start falling and lead to greater competition between schools and school sectors.
The analysis by the Independent Schools Council of Australia showed the highest growth since 1996 was in low-fee Anglican schools, with annual enrolments growing by about 40% in NSW and Queensland since 2000.
The council's executive director, Bill Daniels, said independent schools were expected to "fare the decline in Australia's school population better than Catholic and government schools".
"As a result, the independent schools sector would be approaching the size of the Catholic schools sector, which is expected to remain static over this period," he said.
In Western Australia and South Australia there will be more students in independent schools than in Catholic schools within five years.
The council counts in its statistics some high-fee Catholic schools run by religious orders, which classify themselves as independent. Catholic systemic schools have in the past 30 years held their enrolment share at about 19 to 21% in the face of greater competition for private education.
Drift to private schools to be a flood (Sydney Morning Herald 27/9/05)
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Independent Schools Council of Australia | Independent Update, September 2005
27 Sep 2005