Free advice from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office

It’s worth what universities pay for it

VAGO reports five universities were in net surplus last year and three made a loss. Overall expenses increased by $53m – despite $318m in non-staff savings, and an $84m (11 per cent) drop in “contracted and professional services.”

But despite a 10 per cent reduction in FTE jobs, staff costs increased by $370m (6.5 per cent) “partly due to the significant costs of redundancy programmes” – the system reported $233m in termination payments last year.

As to how many people lost their jobs, VAGO is silent – stating figures in FTEs. The report does state that 42 per cent of FTE job losses were permanent staff, but how many part-timers, casuals and short-term contract employees made up the 58 per cent is not stated.

VAGO finds no-fault with universities presentations of financials, but warns that there are continuing weaknesses in IT security.

As to what happens next, “the longer-term financial sustainability risk to the sector increases the longer the international borders stay closed. Universities need to actively manage costs and may need to rethink their business models to remain financially sustainable.”

Who would have thought