Tales of two cities: SA unis financial results

Uni SA and Flinders U managed ok last year – not budgeting big on international student income certainly helped as Uni Adelaide shows

Uni Adelaide reports a 2020 net operating result of $9.3m – management is keen to make clear this barely covers wages for a week

The annual report tabled in state parliament reveals a steady state on 2019 – net earnings were just $3m down on 2019, on revenues of $977m. However, while international student income was steady at $254m – this was nearly $40m under target in a 2020 growth budget.

While the university found $90m in savings it warns in an accompanying statement that $30m more and $20m in new income are needed to offset projected shortfalls in 2022-23.

Crisis? What crisis? at Uni SA 

“I am grateful to report that we emerged from 2020 with only a little scathe,” VC David Lloyd writes in Uni SA’s annual report. Such a slight scathe that there were marginal improvements on metrics that mattered. Overall student starts were up a bit, international students (by load) stayed with Uni SA. Revenue increased marginally and expenditure was contained. Employment expenses were up $20m, to $432m – some of which may have been from a voluntary retirement scheme but overall FTE numbers increased by 65 to 2740.

Overall revenue was up $10m (to $694m) with an unchanged $21.3m operating result.

Calm seas for Flinders U

Tough times were not terrible – international student numbers (on and off-shore) were stable and staff count stayed the same from 2019. Income was up $5m, and costs were down $9m, thanks to $11m in non-staff savings.

Overall Finders U reports $535m in revenue and a 7 per cent operating margin – the way-best for five years. “Endeavour, prudence and careful planning means that Flinders University is in good financial shape to progress our future plans,” VC Colin Stirling says.

A 2016-18 restructure, effecting just about everywhere and everybody at the university, to repair finances and meet new benchmarks in teaching, research and administration can’t have hurt either.