Universities Australia Acting Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the new figures showed the Australian university sector had faced shrinking surpluses even before the pre-Christmas cuts.
“The Government’s own figures make the case against the $2.2 billion in funding cuts because they show that universities’ operating surpluses fell by 5.5 percent from 2015 to 2016,” she said.
“University surpluses as a share of their revenue also fell – and that surplus margin is now at its lowest level since 2009. And almost one in six universities are in deficit.”
“This shows very clearly that universities and their students will be hit by the Government’s $2.2 billion in cuts – which come on top of cuts worth almost $4 billion since 2011.”
“But the figures also reflect the reality that – despite efficiencies – some fixed costs within university budgets such as electricity and gas bills have skyrocketed in recent years,” she said.
The Government has questioned universities’ spending on advertising, but this remains only 1 percent of university budgets. The money that universities spent on marketing in 2016 helped to secure almost 100 times that outlay in export earnings for Australia.
Our nation earned $28.6 billion in 2016-17 by attracting international students to study here instead of in one of our economic competitor countries. “That’s almost a 100-fold return on investment – a very strong result for Australian taxpayers,” Ms Jackson said.
Here are the key facts:
- Operating surplus for the sector fell by 5.5 per cent from 2015 to 2016;
- University surpluses as a share of their revenue also fell – and that surplus margin is now at its lowest level since 2009;
- Almost one in six universities are in deficit;
- University funding cuts worth $2.2 billion were announced in the Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook in December;
- These cuts come on top of cuts worth almost $4 billion since 2011; and
- The Government has also proposed legislation to abolish the $3.8 billion Education Investment Fund – the last remaining source of capital funds for education infrastructure.