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Elite schools face exodus, revenue drop

EIGHT elite private schools risk losing money this year due to a COVID-19 enrolment exodus, Queensland's Auditor-General has warned.

The Queensland Audit Office says the high-priced schools together made a $14 million surplus last year.

But enrolment revenue could fall, it warns, as COVID-19 job losses force parents to pull their children from schools charging up to $27,000 a year in tuition fees.

"The impacts of COVID-19 … may result in enrolments declining at grammar schools,'' the audit office states in a new report, tabled in State Parliament this week.

"As the economy and the ability of parents to contribute to school fees continue to be impacted by COVID-19, grammar schools need to plan for potential declines in revenue over the longer term and assess how this affects their sustainability.''

 

Brisbane Grammar School made a $7.5 million surplus last year. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Brisbane Grammar School made a $7.5 million surplus last year. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

 

The wealthiest school is Brisbane Grammar, which paid its headmaster $523,000 last year, made a $7.5 million surplus after tax, and has $191 million in assets.

Brisbane Girls' Grammar, which paid the principal $539,283, almost doubled its surplus last year to $4 million, with assets worth $147 million.

 

Brisbane Girls Grammar School almost doubled its surplus last year from 2018, to $4 million.
Brisbane Girls Grammar School almost doubled its surplus last year from 2018, to $4 million.

 

Both schools discounted their fees by 10 per cent in term 2, along with Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie), St Joseph's College Nudgee and all 142 Brisbane Catholic schools.

A Brisbane Girls' Grammar spokeswoman said yesterday that "enrolments remain solid and steady''.

"The school has focused on delivering a quality education during these complicated times and continues to assess the business impact of COVID-19,'' she said.

"It is too soon to fully understand the longer term impact and surpluses always vary year-on-year, however, enrolments remain solid and steady.''

 

Ipswich Girls Grammar recorded a $58,000 surplus last year. Picture: Jono Searle
Ipswich Girls Grammar recorded a $58,000 surplus last year. Picture: Jono Searle

 

A Brisbane Grammar spokesman said: "We don't wish to comment on these matters."

The audit report reveals that Ipswich Girls' Grammar School barely broke even, with a slim $58,000 surplus last year, down from $754,000 in 2018.

Ipswich Grammar made a $403,000 surplus last year - more than double the $196,000 in 2018.

Toowoomba Grammar School's surplus plunged from $1.9 million in 2018 to just $237,000 last year.

 

Toowoomba Grammar School made a surplus of $237,000 last year.
Toowoomba Grammar School made a surplus of $237,000 last year.

 

Townsville Grammar School made a $289,000 surplus - down from $958,000 the previous year.

Rockhampton Grammar School made a $1.2 million surplus last year - down from $1.9 million in 2018.

And Rockhampton Girls' Grammar School, which had lost $18,000 in 2018, made a $239,000 surplus last year.

 

FACING POTENTIAL ENROLMENT REVENUE DROP

Brisbane Grammar - $7.5 million surplus last year

Brisbane Girls' Grammar - $4 million surplus last year

Ipswich Girls' Grammar School - $58,000 surplus last year

Ipswich Grammar - $403,000 surplus last year

Toowoomba Grammar School - $237,000 surplus last year

Townsville Grammar School - $289,000 surplus last year

Rockhampton Grammar School - $1.2 million surplus last year

Rockhampton Girls' Grammar School - $239,000 surplus last year

 

Originally published as Elite schools face exodus, revenue drop


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