WA uni 2021 financials: saved by the feds

The four public universities 2021 annual reports demonstrate the year could have been way worse

Curtin U: Total operating income increased from $902m in 2020, to $996m last year. This was largely due to a $60m increase in Commonwealth funding. Domestic student numbers (not load) were up 1800 to 47 850. While in-country international enrolments dropped 15 per cent, to 5572, off-shore numbers were down just 150 to 6510. The operating margin was $113m, up from a marginal loss in 2020, with a $40m saving on staff costs making a substantial contribution.

Edith Cowan U: 2021 revenue was $533m, up from $480m in 2020. This was due to a $33m increase in Commonwealth grants and nearly $40m more in WA state and local government financial assistance, mainly state government capital grants. ECU reports an underlying operating surplus of $25m and a 5 per cent margin.

Murdoch U: Student numbers were 2200 down from 2020 to 23 300, while revenue was all but unchanged, $392.3m in ’21 and a restated (accounting changes) $392.7 in ’20. Total Commonwealth funding was up $6m, to $210m. Acting VC Jane den Hollander summed up the situation in her report; “The university’s finances remained under pressure throughout 2021 and while savings and efficiencies were found, increasing student numbers, and identifying new sources of revenue, remain essential goals for 2022 and beyond.”

Uni WA: Total enrolments were up 1700, to 27 900. The university reports an 11 per cent operating margin for 2021, (nearly double 2020’s when restated for accounting changes). However UWA attributes the improvement, in part to “one-time government research funding to alleviate the impact of COVID-19” and “to increased savings as part of initiatives for continued financial sustainability.” All up the university’s consolidated result for 2021 saw income up $187m, to $1176.3m. Commonwealth grants were up $70m, with investment producing $153m up from $58m.