The amount of money parents are spending on their children’s education in the UK - from primary school to university - has been revealed in startling new research amid the rising cost of higher education.
According to the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation (RMNEF), parents are spending an annual average amount of £1,677 on each of their children who are in full-time education, eventually rising to £7,575 a year for those with children at university.
If spending continues at this rate, the RMNEF said the parents of a child starting school this year should expect to spend upwards of £41,000 on their entire education.
Charles Heron-Watson, CEO of the RMNEF - which provides educational support to children - described how the situation is likely to “get worse before it gets better.”
Among the highest costs for school-aged children, parents are currently spending an average of almost £230 on uniforms and school trips, £277 on lunches and food, and just over £200 on sports and music equipment.
When it comes to the students then moving onto university, parents are forking out an average of almost £2,800 a year on rent and bills, around £3,800 on tuition fees, and almost £400 other costs associated with living. In many cases, the charity said parents are paying much more, adding how 19 per cent of parents, for example, pay more than £5,000 each year for university tuition.
As these figures inexorably rise, almost half of all children (48%) have missed out on an educational experience because of the cost according to their parents. Parents themselves are also having to make sacrifices and, while 33% of parents have foregone holidays and 25% have passed up evenings out, more worryingly 14% have cut food spending and 13% heating/water.
“We’ve come through some pretty rough economic waters recently and there have been numerous cuts to welfare budgets we now see first-hand are hitting families where it hurts the most - their children.”
One area that attracted particular frustration was the cost of trips, said Mr Heron-Watson, with many schools now offering expensive excursions to far-flung places: “In one instance, the cost for one child was £3,000. While school trips are widely acknowledged as important by 75 per cent of parents, four in ten believe they should be subsidised and 22 per cent think they should be entirely free.”
Despite school trips playing an important part in a child’s education, Mr Heron-Watson said expecting parents to foot the bill for trips to long-haul destinations “clearly divides opportunity between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have-nots’.”
He said: “Education is the foundation to the future of all children who should be given the best chance for success, but this is simply not possible if the playing field is not so much level as split in half.”
Now, as the cost of education across parts of the UK continues to increase, the CEO highlighted how support exists and that parents “don’t have to go it alone.” He said: “While the RMNEF can offer a range of financial support to help further the education of some of our nation’s youth, there is a range of other resources out there from charities, to bursaries, to allowances that can help too.”
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