Long projects for the Australian university sector
Speaking at the Australian Financial Review 2021 Higher Education Summit, Australia’s Minister of Education, “Even if international students roared in 2022, the impact of the massive drop in beginning students (36.5% since June 2019) will still be felt for several years.”
“The greatest initial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the academic sector was actually from reduced income on investments, due to weak global stock markets, rather than a reduction in the number of students. international, ”Tudge continued.
He also said that “the majority of universities have entered a relatively strong financial position this calendar year.”
Although the number of cases in the country is relatively low, the prime minister said the country will stick to its lockdown strategy until 70% of citizens are vaccinated. The country recorded 914 new cases on Sunday, and New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory are on lockdown.
“You can’t live with blockages forever and at some point you have to shift gears, and that’s 70% done,” said Scott Morrison.
Many leaders from leading universities and organizations attending the summit said the relative financial strength of universities was due to savings generated by involuntary layoffs of staff, blocking of capital works and strict measures on spending.
Chief Executive Officer Catriona Jackson told The PIE: “All of our universities continue to experience significant revenue losses due to Covid-19.
“Australia has not funded its universities in appropriate OECD countries average levels “
“It is important to recognize that the challenges facing the sector are not one-year problems.
“With starts down by a third and border closures and blockages continuing to affect many sectors of the Australian economy, the consequences for the higher education sector will be severe and prolonged for many years to come. .
“Australian universities lost around $ 1.8 billion in revenue in 2020, and we expect at least another $ 2 billion to be lost next year. “
Phil Honeywood, CEO of said “for many years now, ”there has been a tacit understanding between successive federal Labor and coalition governments and our universities.
“This has implied that governments do not question the number of international students paying tuition fees enrolled by our educational institutions provided that universities do not exert too much pressure for additional capital work and recurrent public funding, “he told PIE.
“As a result, on a number of global comparative financial analyzes, Australia has not funded its universities in the appropriate OECD countries” average levels.
The CEO, “The distorted funding model of Australian universities, which was not sustainable” because it relies heavily on international students and not enough on public funding for research and to offset the costs of domestic students.
Catherine Livingstone, Chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney, said perhaps now is the time for universities to better understand their own cost structures.
“Developing consistent methodologies for understanding our cost structures would be a very useful thing that the industry could do in the future,” she said.
In an interview with The PIE, a spokesperson for the University of Melbourne highlighted the concerns of the University.
“The University remains under serious financial threat and continues to operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty. However, throughout the pandemic, we have provided essential financial support to our students to enable them to continue their education, ”they said.
“Being at the mercy of outside forces means that we are likely to face more challenges ”
“The next two or three years will absolutely depend on the number of international students enrolled, Commonwealth government decisions and other externalities. Being at the mercy of outside forces means that we are likely to face more challenges. “
multiple government financial support to the sector since last year, during the AFR summit.
, the vice-chancellor of the University of Adelaide called for the $ 1 billion emergency grant for universities announced in the 2020 budget to be made permanent, until universities are able to emerge from the funding crisis, which is expected to take several years.
On an optimistic note however, Thomson at , said: “Our universities have been around for tens and hundreds of years… they have withstood fires, famine and floods. They would also resist Covid-19, but with a few changes they may have to adopt … we have some tough yards to cover in the next two or three years to come back stronger on the other side.
Australia is also waiting for 70% of its population to be fully vaccinated before allowing the gradual return of international students. Tudge said the government still plans to launch the NSW and South Australian pilots for international students, once the current outbreak of Covid-19 in the country subsides.
He said he was “confident that students will come back in large numbers” once the borders are reopened.