Parents spend an average of £41,000 on their child’s education, charity reveals

January 2016. At the start of a new term, parents across the UK are already feeling the pinch according to new research released today[1] by the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation (RMNEF). Each year parents are spending an average of £1,677 on each of their children who are in fulltime education, and this rises to £7,575 for those with children at university. At this rate, the parents of a child starting school this year should expect to spend upwards of £41,000 on their education.

Among the highest costs for school-aged children are uniform (£229 on average), lunches and food (£277), school trips (£292) and sports and musical equipment (£208). With parents of university students, rent and bills cost £2,746 on average, tuition costs £3,725 and other costs of living £396. These represent average costs and in many cases, parents are paying much more (for example 19% of parents pay more than £5,000 per year for university tuition)[2].

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.

Charles Heron-Watson – CEO of the RMNEF which provides educational support to children and which has HRH the Queen as its patron – believes that this issue will most probably get worse before it gets better:

“We’ve come through some pretty rough economic waters recently and there have been numerous cuts to welfare budgets that we now see first-hand are hitting families where it hurts the most – their children,” he said.


One area that attracted particular frustration was the cost of school trips, with many schools now offering expensive excursions to far-flung places. In one instance encountered by the RMNEF, the cost for one child was £3,000. While school trips are widely acknowledged as important by three-quarters (75%) of parents, four in ten (39%) believe they should be subsidised and 22% think they should be entirely free.

“School trips are important but expecting parents to foot the bill for trips to long-haul destinations clearly divides opportunity between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have-nots’,” said Heron-Watson. “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.”

While the cost of education is only set to increase, Heron-Watson is keen to point out that support exists and that parents don’t have to go it alone. “While my organisation, 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.”

For a list of sources for educational funding please visit


About the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation:


The Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation (RMNEF) offers support to the disadvantaged children, in fulltime education or training, of current and former Merchant Navy Seafarers, and of professional sea-going fishermen and RNLI crew members. Abiding by the motto “education is the foundation”, since 1827 the RMNEF has helped thousands of ‘Foundationers’ achieve their educational and career-led goals.

The RMNEF offers support including contributions towards school or university fees, living expenses while in fulltime education, educational books, visits or equipment, school uniform costs and a great deal more. For more information about the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation and to see if eligible for help, please visit

[1] Survey of 1,006 nationally representative UK adults with children in education. Conducted by Atomik Research on behalf of the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation

[2] For a full breakdown of results, please contact

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