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Australia has been increasing its participation in a global market for education services. By 2005-06, education exports, as measured by fees paid by international students to Australian education institutions, totalled $3,981m. Approximately $6,000m was spent in Australia by these students, on associated living expenses (including food, accommodation and transportation). Education imports include Australians studying abroad and other payments overseas for education services (consultancy, correspondence courses, etc.). Combined with associated living expenses, education imports accounted for $830m in 2005-06.
General government expenses
Operating expenses for all levels of government are shown by economic transaction in graph 12.33 and by purpose in table 12.34. In 2005-06, employee expenses of $27,383m comprised 55% of all operating expenses on education.
Table 12.34 shows that total operating expenses (less intra-sector transfers) across all levels of government in 2005-06 was $49,741m, an increase of $3,133m (7%) from the previous year. This largely reflects increases in expenses on primary and secondary education of $1,734m (7%) and tertiary education of $1,401m (8%).
In 2005-06, over half (55%) of the operating expenses on education across all levels of government ($27,477m) was spent on primary and secondary education. Operating expenses on the tertiary sector totalled $18,415m, which includes $13,685m on university education and $4,703m on other tertiary education (including TAFE).
Over the four-year period from 2001-02 and 2005-06, operating expenses for education increased by 31% across all levels of government, with increases of 31% for primary and secondary education, and 29% for tertiary education.
Graph 12.35 summarises operating expenses for education for each level of government. In 2005-06, operating expenses for education were $15,807m for the Commonwealth Government, $35,469m for state and local governments and $13,870m for the multi-jurisdictional sector (mainly public universities). Intra-sector transfers that occurred between different levels of government for the purposes of education, were $15,405m, resulting in total government operating expenses of $49,741m.
Operating expenses for education for state and local governments have remained higher than for the Commonwealth Government over the period from 1999-2000 to 2005-06. Over this period, operating expenses for education have increased by similar amounts for both state and local government (51%) and the Commonwealth Government (52%).
Funds to support educational facilities and the delivery of education services, originate from a variety of sources, predominately grants from the Australian (Commonwealth) Government, and state and territory governments. Sales of goods and services include fees and charges for tuition, which vary considerably within the education sector. To a lesser extent, other sources of funds may include items such as donations or return from investments.
While primary and secondary education is free in government schools in all states and territories, fees may be charged for the hire of text books and other school equipment (particularly in secondary schools). Voluntary contributions may also be sought from parents. Most non-government schools charge fees, although these may vary from school to school. Tuition fees are set in consideration of the school philosophy and affiliation, level of government funding received, and the educational services and facilities provided. Additional fees may be charged for textbooks, subject materials and extra-curricular activities.
Most VET providers charge students fees for the administration of VET courses, for tuition, materials or for student amenities. These fees vary according to the type of course and its duration. Higher education institutions receive revenue from students who are required to contribute to the cost of their education through the Higher Education Loan Programme, and from other fee-paying students including overseas students.
Fees are usually charged for ACE programs that complement the formal programs and qualification pathways provided by the schools, VET and higher education sectors. Fees vary considerably between ACE programs, being determined by the diverse range of ACE providers including community-based organisations and educational institutions.