The  recently-released New South Wales Auditor General report on the state’s ten public universities for 2019 reflect results from operations before the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.

A couple of key points:

* the combined revenues for all NSW universities increased by $381m, to $11.4bn in 2019, driven by increases in international student revenues

* revenue from overseas students continued to grow faster than that from domestic students and contributed $3.7bn in course fees to NSW universities in 2019.

The report notes that government grants have decreased as a proportion of the total income of the NSW universities over the past five years. Revenue from fees and charges increased by 49.1 per cent over the same period, with course fee revenue from overseas students growing much faster than that from domestic students.

They note that the COVID 19 pandemic may significantly impact the financial results of NSW universities in 2020. NSW universities provided data on COVID 19 impacted student enrolments for semester one 2020. Overall numbers of student enrolments in semester one, 2020 were 5.8 per cent beneath projections. Overseas student enrolments were 13.8 per cent beneath expectations, and domestic student enrolments were 2.4 per cent below expectations.

The report notes, “universities are also closely monitoring the financial impact of COVID-19 and the pressure put on liquidity. NSW universities have implemented cost-saving measures, including reducing the casual and contractor workforce, delaying the hire of new staff, eliminating travel, and pausing other discretionary expenditure. They are also closely monitoring liquidity requirements and have deferred planned capital expenditures and renegotiated lines of credit.”

The report makes recommendations to parliament that the NSW universities, should be strengthening controls over validating published performance information, which makes up most of the annual reports, including VC salary packages.

Emeritus Professor Garry Carnegie, FCPA, RMIT University and Distinguished Professor James Guthrie, FCPA, Macquarie University





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