A child born today could be up for more than half a million dollars if they want to get a prestige university degree, according to the latest university cost index from the Australian Scholarship Group.
The education investment fund has estimated the total cost of a university education in 2033 will be about $508,000 for a medical student living out of home.
Cheaper degrees include photography and psychology – with total costs reaching $204,000 and $278,000 respectively for students living independently.
The total figure is calculated on the basis of university fees, living costs, clothing, transport, computers and other education costs. This includes everything from student amenities fees, internet and computer costs averaged at $554 a year, text book and photocopying costs averaged at $1006 a year and $10.20 for snacks for four days each week.
That figure is significantly less when students live at home while studying – with a medical student staying at home to expected to pay just $267,875 for their degree compared with the $508,000 paid by their classmates in shared rental accommodation over the six years of their degree.
But even if a student studying a relatively cheap course stays at home, they can still expect to pay to pay $93,044 over their three-year degree in 2033.
The 2033 costs are considerably higher than those currently borne by university students: a 2033 medical student living out of home is expected to pay $260,000 more than current medical students.
A photography student living at home in 2033 will be expected to pay $40,000 more than current photography students.
ASG chief executive officer John Velegrinis noted that "the current uncertainty around fee deregulation makes planning for the cost of education difficult". "What we do know for certain is that living costs and degrees will be more expensive in the future," he said.
"Over the last five years in Australia the cost of tertiary education has risen by more than double the rate of inflation. We can expect this trend to continue, especially if fees are deregulated."
While living at home was the most effective way to reduce costs, Mr Velegrinis noted this was not possible for regional students or those who needed to travel interstate for the course they most wanted to study.
Last month, ASG calculated that Canberra's newest parents could end up forking out almost half a million dollars to get their children through 14 years of private schooling.
In a separate education cost index, ASG found that privately educating a Canberra child born in 2015 from preschool to year 12 was expected to cost $421,418.
The survey placed Canberra third behind Sydney at $541,275 and Melbourne at $502,088, and just below a projected national average of $456,933. Sending a child through the territory's government school system was calculated to be almost eight times cheaper, at $53,564.