Publication Details

Valadkhani, A., Worthington, A.C. & Layton, A.P. (2005). A note on the rising cost of education in Australia. Economic Papers, 24 (2), 97-106. Article reproduced here with the permission of the Economic Society of Australia Inc. who hold the copyright.


Human capital, or a better educated labour force, is a major determinant of economic growth and productivity. However, recent trends in the cost of education in Australia may cause growth and productivity to suffer. For example, during the period 1982-2003 inflation rose on average by 4.4 per cent per annum, whereas the cost of education grew overall on average by 7.8 per cent. This has made education a relatively expensive item among Australian households. This paper compares and contrasts the cost of education in Australia and comparable economies with the cost of other goods and services embedded in the CPI (Consumer Price Index) basket using the latest available quarterly data. Finally, the major determinants of the rising cost of education in Australia are examined. It is found, inter alia, that over the period 1986-2003 the increasing number of students enrolled at non-governmental primary and secondary schools and the introduction of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) were two important determinants of the rising cost of education.