Enrolment Trends

Growth of the Independent school sector

Over the past 50 years, and particularly since the expansion of Australian Government recurrent funding for both government and non-government schools following the recommendations of the ‘Karmel Report’Schools in Australia: report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission (1973), the Independent school sector’s share of Australian full-time (FT) enrolments has grown from 4.1 per cent in 1970 to 15.4 per cent in 2021.



Full-time (FT) enrolment share by sector, selected years, 1970 to 2021

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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Note: The ABS classifies independent Catholic schools as Catholic, rather than Independent.


In the last decade, the average annual increase in full-time enrolments in the Independent sector, at 1.9 per cent, has consistently exceeded the average growth at Catholic systemic (1.0 per cent) and government (1.3 per cent) schools.

This growth in full-time enrolments has occurred in all states and territories, with the strongest rates of growth in New South Wales (2.2 per cent), Queensland (2.2 per cent) and Victoria (2.2 per cent).

Over the past five years, the rate of growth in the Independent sector has been progressively increasing.

Growth in the Independent sector by state, 2011 and 2021

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Source: Department of Education, Skills and Employment Non Government School Census


In the past five years, the highest rates of enrolment growth across the Independent sector nationally is from low fee schools, occurring in both regional and metro areas.

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