Choice of School Sector in Australia

Document Information


  • Published: November 2010
  • Author: Chris Ryan
  • Purpose: NATSEM Seminar
  • Location: NATSEM, University of Canberra
  • Keywords: Australia, Choice, school and sector


Since the mid-1970s, the proportion of Australian school students who attend private schools has grown from just over one fifth to just over one third. Many factors are likely to have contributed to the growth in private school attendance over this period. These factors include growth in household income and changes in the concentration of work (more two-income families), demographic factors, such as the reduction in average family size, perceived and actual changes in relative quality between the school sectors, changes in preferences towards private schooling and increased government subsidies to private schooling. The trend towards private schools and the role of government subsidies remains a contentious and emotive issue in Australia, despite almost four decades of government recurrent grants to private schools. Debate surrounding the introduction of the socio-economic status based funding scheme in 2000 and the large increases in funding it generated for some notable high-fee schools, and the policy taken by the Australian Labor Party to the 2004 election to reverse the increased funding are examples of how politically charged the funding of private schools remains among some quarters in Australia. Government funding to private schools are again under review in Australia. In this seminar, Dr Ryan will talk about a research program conducted with colleagues over the past three years looking at the determinants of private school choice in Australia


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