Private School Costs Rise Four Times Faster Than Earnings

U.K. parents are being squeezed out of private education as fees rise.

The number of senior private-school pupils has declined by 3 percent over the past five years as costs climbed 21 percent, according to research by Lloyds Banking Group Plc. Fees have risen faster in Greater London than any other U.K. region.

The increase has outpaced earnings growth by a factor of four, the report found, as inflation tops wages for a seventh year. Day fees of 12,345 pounds ($20,147) a year in 2014 equaled 37 percent of average full-time U.K. earnings, the bank said.

Education costs in general have risen by a quarter since July 2012, according to the U.K. Consumer Price Index, placing a greater burden on families with children. In addition to increasing private school costs, a new fee regime for universities in England is keeping inflation for those families above the average rate. The U.K. government tripled the cap on university tuition fees to 9,000 pounds a year in 2012.

Annual fees at Eton College, among the most expensive boarding schools in the U.K., have increased more slowly than average over the period to 34,434 pounds. Eton, based in the Berkshire, England town of the same name, counts 19 prime ministers among its alumni, including David Cameron, the current occupant of 10 Downing Street.

“It’s becoming increasingly vital that parents plan ahead as early as possible, to ensure that they secure the future they desire for their children.,” Sarah Deaves, private-banking director at Lloyds, said in the report.

About 7 percent of U.K. students attend private schools, rising to a fifth of students over the age of 16.

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