Claire Gasgoine asks Brewin Dolphin’s Simon Blowey how parents and grandparents can meet the frightening cost of education
Education maketh man, according to the philosopher John Locke. But these days, education can also maketh the man’s parents very poor indeed.
With large school fees increases and the removal of the cap on university tuition fees, it’s never been harder to ensure your child has the education they deserve. Much foresight and planning is needed to mitigate the costs when playing this particular game.
Recent years have seen fee rises, in some cases considerably ahead of inflation; over a generation, fees have risen fivefold from an annual £3,000-6,000 in 1986, according to The Good Schools Guide, with some now pushing the psychologically significant £30,000 barrier.
Even once children are beyond school age there’s little respite; with the raising last December of the government cap on tuition fees to £9,000 a year, university costs are set to rise as well. The average annual cost of living and studying in 2010-11, according to the National Union of Students, was £15,523 outside London, and the average shortfall a whopping £7,340.
It all makes it increasingly difficult for parents to provide the kind of education that they themselves received — one reason why a growing number of grandparents are getting involved in helping to make
the numbers add up.
‘Paying for your child’s education is a long-term commitment, getting on for quarter of a century if you are starting with prep school and seeing a child through to a degree,’ says Simon Blowey, a financial planner at Brewin Dolphin.
‘There is a growing realisation that parents are not going to be able to buy a house, fund a pension and their children’s education through the kind of capital growth that we have seen in the past 40 years,’ says Blowey, who is seeing more and more clients using their savings for the benefit of their grandchildren’s schooling.