Response from the College: Perceived High Cost of Colleges

Provided below is some context and comment from the College, in relation to the article in The West Australian newspaper and subsequent social media commentary about the perceived high cost of college living:

A college such as St George’s should improve the personal, academic and social opportunities for university students who require or are keen for residence in a safe and optimistic environment. Its effectiveness can likely only be judged by those who have some experience, first or second hand, of College life. Statistics indicate good academic performance. Personal and social development is much more subjective to evaluate. Our great hope and belief is that the substantial majority of people who have passed through St George’s have felt that their lives, wellbeing, friendships, knowledge and opportunities have been greatly enhanced by being here. Hopefully and in retrospect they will feel that they were fairly treated, they have great friends and they have an outlook and values that now help them in their lives and careers.

 We know that for some people – at a time in life of great change and flux – they may not have emerged with the absolutely best academic results or apparent exceptional progress or achievement but they may well have been helped by their friends and the staff at St George’s to find their way through a challenging phase of their life in a way that safeguarded them and now has them enjoying a future that was much assisted by life at College.

So we hope that the College can hold its head quite high in terms of making a beneficial difference to people’s lives – and it has to be said that much of that comes just from providing an environment in which the members of the College can get on, grow up, have fun, learn and develop through their own talents, characters and devices.

Inevitably given the nature of the article there has been a focus on cost of fees and comparative value. A few comments. Obviously for those who have been at the College, they can base their evaluation on the personal experience that they have had. Otherwise there have to be elements of comparison and other points.

The fees charged by St George’s are less than the boarding fees of private schools, which provide comparable services; it can be argued that a college such as St George’s provides more than the boarding offering. The fees at St George’s are much less than comparable Melbourne and Sydney colleges, operating probably in a lower operating cost environment. Why are their fees higher? To fund the services provided and to ensure a sustainable future.

In relation to costs between colleges there are many different offerings. Caution must be exercised. For example some of the costs quoted for other colleges do not include all meals, air conditioned room, laundry, cleaning etc. At St George’s it’s a comprehensive fee – all meals, all air conditioned rooms (the only college to offer such), all academic and extension programs, which are substantial, student support – we’re the only college to have a Student Care Centre, mentoring, extensive resident training etc.  St George’s also has a wide range of scholarships and bursaries. We believe that we offer a very strong offering indeed at the level of fees charged.

Taking account of all meals, utilities, cleaning, gym membership and academic and other program costs, we estimate a fully furnished room cost of about $210 per week.

Additionally you don’t have any uni travel costs – probably $50 a week (less for a Perth bus traveller and much much more for a car driver).

Lots of special and Georgian events are put on without any further charge. And remember Duty of Care oversight at no cost – if you’re ill in the night in a rental, a staff member doesn’t look after you or take you to hospital if necessary.

When looking at rental prices, you have to look at all that is offered by the College. You don’t have to pay to boil the kettle at St George’s!

Going back to the beginning, we sincerely hope that residents and their families feel that they received good treatment by the College and their lives have been improved by being here – and it was fair value.