Release type: Media Release


Record operating surplus for Australian universities


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

Australia’s universities continue to grow strongly, according to the latest report on their financial health.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, today released the Finance 2010: Financial reports of Higher Education Providers.  It shows the operating surplus of Australia’s 39 universities increased to $1.95 billion in 2010, an increase of 8.1 per cent compared to the 2009 result.

Eighteen Australian universities returned surpluses of more than $50 million.

Revenue for the sector increased from $19.9 billion in 2009 to $21.5 billion in 2010 – up 8.2 per cent.  Australian Government funding, including loans to students, increased by 8.9 per cent to $12.4 billion in 2010.

Australian Universities – Operating Surplus ($m)

Australian Universities – Operating Surplus ($m)

“Today’s report shows universities are well placed for the start of the demand driven funding system in 2012,” Senator Evans said.

“Universities have shown strong financial growth since coming out of the global financial crisis, supported by major injections of Australian Government funding in response to the Bradley Review of Higher Education in 2009.

“What is remarkable is that this financial growth has occurred despite the well-documented slowdown in international education which started to bite in 2009”.

Universities have now returned record operating surpluses six times in the last seven years. Since 2002, universities have recorded nine surpluses totalling $9.2 billion.

“I expect that 2012 will be an even stronger year for universities as it is the first year that the Government’s improved indexation arrangements take full effect,” Senator Evans said.

“Next year will also see the restoration of funding for student amenities and services, delivering substantial additional revenue to universities in 2012.

“Universities also stand to gain considerably from new streamlined visa arrangements which will underpin sustainable growth in their international operations next year.

“I would like to see universities using the resources they have been provided to invest more in their students to ensure students get the best learning experiences our universities can deliver”.

The report today also shows in 2010, the total net assets in higher education increased to $37.6 billion, up by nearly $2.5 billion, or 7.1 per cent, from 2009. External borrowings increased to $1.9 billion, but the debt to equity ratio remains modest having increased by only 1 per cent to 33 per cent.

“It is vital universities now demonstrate that these extra resources can produce the quality graduates Australia needs for its future workforce and improved productivity,” Senator Evans said.

“I have been up front with Australia’s university leaders that in the current budget environment, new injections of funding for universities in response to the Base Funding Review are not realistic.

“What this report shows is that Australian universities are going from financial strength to strength and that they are in a strong position to consolidate these gains next year”.

The finance report released today is derived from universities’ annual financial statements. The report is available at:

A full table of operating results is attached.

Operating Surpluses by University (higher education operations), 2010
University Surplus ($m)
University of New South Wales 141.1
Australian National University 137.2
University of Sydney 113.7
Griffith University 109.8
University of Queensland 106.1
Macquarie University 100.6
University of Wollongong 100.4
La Trobe University 99.2
Deakin University 83.0
University of South Australia 70.0
University of Adelaide 64.1
University of Western Sydney 61.4
RMIT University 58.8
Flinders University 56.4
University of Tasmania 54.5
University of Melbourne 53.6
Monash University 53.1
University of Western Australia 52.8
Queensland University of Technology 47.2
Swinburne University 45.3
Curtin University of Technology 40.9
University of Newcastle 36.5
Murdoch University 32.4
University of Technology, Sydney 29.8
Victoria University 23.6
Australian Catholic University 22.2
Edith Cowan University 21.0
Charles Darwin University 20.5
University of Ballarat 18.5
James Cook University 18.4
University of Notre Dame Australia 17.8
Charles Sturt University 16.8
University of the Sunshine Coast 16.3
University of Southern Queensland 14.6
University of Canberra 8.0
Southern Cross University 5.4
University of New England 2.3
Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education -0.5
Central Queensland University -6.3
All Institutions 1,946.4