Uni Sydney avoids international enrolment abyss

The feared collapse has not happened 

Second semester student census numbers are in and VC Michael Spence tells staff, “we are in a better position than anticipated and have come much closer to achieving the original budget, set prior to the pandemic, than we thought possible.”

Domestic enrolments are 2.4 per cent up on the original budget and international student numbers “are far more positive than we had anticipated.” Dr Spence reports international student numbers are down 3.6 per cent.

Overall student numbers for the year are 5.3 per cent lower on original budget, meaning the university is down $98m.

Dr Spence attributes the strong second semester to “the efforts of many colleagues … to provide greater certainty for students around the delivery of teaching and to re-engage those students who deferred or suspended from semester one.”

While this will not be the all of university loss, the university appears in way better shape than six months ago, when Dr Spence warned of a $470m deficit (CMM  April 29).

However, the VC is still careful about expectations.  “The impact of the continuing global pandemic on international student enrolments for 2021 remains difficult to predict, so while we welcome these results we must continue to prepare for a number of future possibilities,” he said yesterday.

One of which is unlikely to be compulsory redundancies. Last month Dr Spence proposed a voluntary redundancy round which he hoped would be the only “staff measure” required (CMM September 18).