Australian Universities lost 17,300 jobs and USD 1.8 billion in 2020

Australian Universities operating revenue fell 4.9 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 figures, and the sector is estimated to lose a further 5.5 percent, or USD 2billion, in 2021.

Australian Universities lost 17,300 jobs and an estimated USD 1.8 billion in revenue in 2020.

Compared with universities’ pre-pandemic budgeted revenue for 2020, this loss is more than USD 3billion.

Universities would face a multi-year hit to their revenues. With international student not enrolling in 2020, the loss would be felt for what would have been their entire three or four years at university.

Continuing border closures universities faced the reality of fewer returning students in 2020 and will have reduced numbers in 2021.

Australian Universities have worked hard to limit job losses by halting infrastructure projects, making tough decisions about courses and making savings wherever they could – but the effect of Covid-19 on the higher education sector has come at a real cost.

Research funding is also of concern to universities, with international student fees usually funding around a quarter of university research. Analysis from Melbourne University found that the drop in international student revenue meant universities could lose between USD 6.4billionn-7.6billionn in research funding over the next five years.

Late last year the federal government allocated an additional USD 1billion in funding for research. Acknowledgements are that the jobs of the future are created by R&D and that universities are central to national recovery.

The Group of Eight – whose members carry out some 70 percent of Australian university research – welcomed the USD 1billion announcements in the government’s Budget 2020.

There are calls for a second financial rescue package in light of the ongoing border closures with warnings Australia will lose its best researchers if universities could not afford the staff or equipment they needed.

The federal government still has not provided a timeline for the opening of borders and earlier this month reduced the cap on international arrivals by around 50 percent.

It continues to reiterate that bringing home the 36,000 citizens stranded overseas remain the priority, despite intense lobbying by the international education sector.