Release type: Media Release


University finances remain relatively strong


The Hon Alan Tudge MP
Minister for Education and Youth

Latest data shows most Australian universities reported surpluses in 2020, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Financial Report for Higher Education Providers shows that, overall, universities reported a net operating surplus of $668.8 million across the sector in 2020. There were 23 universities that reported a net surplus, while 16 reported a deficit.

Total revenue was $34.7 billion in 2020, a net decrease of $1.9 billion, or 5.1 per cent down on 2019. 

The financial report shows the largest contributor to revenue reductions was a decline of $1.3 billion, or 57.7 per cent, in investment revenues. International student revenue was down by $756 million or 7.6 per cent on 2019.

At the end of the 2020, university cash and investments actually increased to a total of $24.6 billion, an increase of 9.8 per cent over 2019.

Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said while the impacts of COVID on the sector were clear, their fundamentals remained strong, which includes the guarantee of Commonwealth grants and Higher Education Loan Program advances regardless of any drop in domestic student enrolments.

“The COVID pandemic has had a significant financial impact on universities, as it has on most businesses,” Minister Tudge said. 

“We provided $18.2 billion in funding in 2020, equivalent to 52.2 per cent of total revenue reported across the sector. This is 30 per cent higher than we came to office in 2013.

“We have also provided an extra $1 billion in research funding for 2021 and a further $550 million for short courses and new undergraduate Commonwealth supported places. This means we are spending a record amount of over $20 billion dollars to support universities this year alone.

“I am confident we will see international students returning to Australia this year, with tens of thousands arriving back in 2022, which will also help boost university bottom lines.

“Under this Government, there are more Australians studying at our university than ever before, with an additional 39,000 enrolments this year.”

The Job-ready Graduates Package has created 30,000 new university places and 50,000 new short course places this year alone. These new places are designed to create more opportunities for Australians to gain the skills and qualifications they need to help drive Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

The 2020 Financial Report for Higher Education Providers is available on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website