The university system remains in the money, with a median net surplus of 4.6 per cent in 2016, down on 5.9 per cent in 2015. According to a new analysis by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, seven universities were in deficit last year, five of which also made losses in 2015, but the rest were cashed up. Universities used profits to expand assets, rather than merely maintain them.
All up the feds funded 47 per cent of university revenues, ahead of domestic students (25 per cent) and internationals (19 per cent).
Despite allegations of declining public support, government funding for all segments of post-school education rose from $32 395m in 2014 to $35 282m in 2016. However overall government funding did decline as a per centage of total income, down from 45 per cent in 2014 to 41 per cent in 2016.
There is a great deal of detail in the TEQSA report, notably about new private providers and the comparative performance of universities which would be very interesting, if institutions were identified. Which they are not. TEQSA states, “for many providers, financial data is commercial-in-confidence; therefor information in this report has been presented in an de-aggregated, de-identified manner.” This is a polite, if outrageous way of telling taxpayers that they cannot know what institutions do with $35bn of taxpayer money.
But not to worry says a learned reader whose idea of decadence is combing university financials, the Department of Education and Training will report on institutional outcomes soon.