Big earners: top five unis ample incomes

Frank Larkins sets-out just how much money Monash U, uni Melbourne, NSW, Queensland and Sydney make

Professor Larkins (Uni Melbourne) explores deep in the weeds of university performance and comes out with extraordinary information on institutions’ performance, for example. On research (CMM May 1and October 24 2017) gender divide (CMM October 3 2018) international student markets ( CMM August 1 2018)  and funding for student places. (CMM July 26 2016 ).

He’s back from his last exploration, with details of how much money Monash U, unis Melbourne, NSW, Queensland and Sydney make and how it distinguishes them from the other universities.

How much money: Less buckets than Syharbs of money, (all in 2018 dollars). Last year the five’s revenue was $11.77bn, up 40.3 per cent on 2009. In comparison, all other university incomes increased from $25.5bn to $33bn – a 32.8 per cent increase. Over ’09-’18 the Fabulous Five increased their share of sector income by nearly two per cent, to 34.7 per cent.

Uni Melbourne was the biggest increased earner, up from $1.85bn to $2.66bn, followed by Monash U – $1.76bn to $2.51bn and UNSW, $1.46 to $2.13bn.

Annual operating results vary due to policy (say using discretionary income to increase research resources) and investment cycles, accounting in some part for the spread in surpluses. They range from Uni Queensland marginally in deficit in 2016 to Uni Sydney’s $270m profit in 2013.

Where’s it coming from: From staff productivity in a considerable part. Revenue per staff member grew between 2009 and 2018 in a range of 13 per cent at Uni Queensland and 21 per cent at Monash U. The all-university figure is 7 per cent.

But not so much from students, with revenue growth not matching increases in student numbers. While Uni Sydney increased revenue by EFTSL by 9 per cent and UNSW by 5 per cent, the other three went backwards on the 2009 figure, Uni Queensland dropped 5 per cent and Monash and Uni Melbourne 2 per cent. The overall-system figure was down 3 per cent.

And this could be a worry: “The fact that for some universities revenue growth has not matched student load growth is a serious matter with the potential to erode the quality of the Australian higher education student experience,” Professor Larkins writes.


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