Melbourne private school cut fees after receiving nearly $20m in jobkeeper

An elite メルボルン private school offered parents fee discounts of 20% last year after it received nearly $20m in jobkeeper subsidies.

Wesley College in Melbourne, which charges some of the highest private school fees in ビクトリア, gave its parents fee rebates, waived other costs and made a $5m transfer to its scholarship fund after it received $18.2m in jobkeeper last year.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the school recorded a fall of over 30% of revenue, making it eligible for the federal government payment.

しかしながら, の終わりまでに 2020, the school had lost no staff, and generated more net cash than it had in 2019, と 12% of its revenue coming from jobkeeper, according to its annual report.

During the year, Wesley College gave fee discounts to parents, を含む 20% reduction in term two tuition fees, そしてその 100% reduction of “consolidated charges” for terms two and three.

The school also transferred $5m to the Wesley College Foundation Scholarship Fund, to fund scholarships for future students.

The principal of Wesley College, Nicholas Evans, told Guardian Australia that the jobkeeper subsidy had saved hundreds of jobs at the school.

Wesley College, which had an estimated $192m in assets in 2019, reported a $2.2m surplus at the end of 2020.

水曜日に, a spokesman for the school told Guardian Australia that it would not be paying any jobkeeper funds back.

Evans said in a statement that “all jobkeeper funds were used to help pay staff salaries through April to September, 2020」.

“More than 200 staff members would have lost their employment in 2020 if not for the jobkeeper program," 彼は言った. “It should be noted Wesley applied for the initial round of jobkeeper assistance and declined to apply for all subsequent rounds.”

しかしながら, the school did not provide an estimate for how much money it spent providing fee rebates to its parents.

Wesley College charges annual school fees of $28,480 for a local student in year six, そして $34,610 for students in years 10 に 12. A year 12 student on full boarding will pay $61,610. International students are charged an additional $4,500 (per family, not per student). The consolidated charges are $1,930 for a student from years five to 12.

The federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh said that taxpayer money, through jobkeeper, should not have been used to “subsidise” the private school’s fees.

“Jobkeeper was meant to keep battlers in jobs, not subsidise school fees in exclusive private schools," 彼は言った.

The billionaire businessman Gerry Harvey has previously refused to repay $22m in jobkeeper that Harvey Norman received, despite its profits more than doubling during the pandemic.

Wesley College’s annual report showed that jobkeeper was the school’s second highest source of revenue in 2020.

昨年, the school received more funding in jobkeeper subsidies ($18.2m) than it did in federal government funding ($16.7m) or state funding ($2.8m).

Evans told Guardian Australia that the school “tightly constrained” its capital works and other costs through the year to contribute to the eventual surplus.

In the school’s annual report, the president of the school council, Marianne Stillwell, wrote that the school had “paused all major capital works” at the start of the pandemic.

しかしながら, 彼女は言いました: “By the end of the calendar year, our major projects are back on track.”

に 2020, tuition fees provided 73% of the school’s revenue, jobkeeper provided 12%, commonwealth funding provided 11%, and state funding provided 0.02%.

Despite the discounts offered, fee income only dropped by 0.03% に 2020, falling $300,000 in total from $113.1m in 2019 to $112.8m in 2020, according to the annual report.

The school’s expenditure rose from $138.4m to $151.4.

Evans told Guardian Australia that “several hundred Wesley families expressed financial hardship requiring assistance through our dedicated fee-help channel” during 2020.

He said that “a number of families” at the school had their business and employment affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

“We continue to extend tuition support for these families through bursaries and extended repayment programs," 彼は言った.

“This surplus and the operational savings have been reinvested to support families via the scholarship fund to deliver further support through the pandemic recovery in 2021/2022 and into college operations and services”.

“As stated at the time, we applaud the Australian government for its prompt action on this matter, which enabled Wesley to focus on supporting students, staff and families and maintain the continuity and quality of our educational programs.”