Cash poor, but the big five unis’ have assets aplenty

The big five were down on cash in 2022 – but they all have the foundation to build reputations post pandemic.

Frank Larkin (Uni Melbourne) adds to his long-running analysis of university finances with a look at 2022 outcomes for Monash U and the universities of Melbourne, NSW, Queensland, and Sydney.

All-up, he reports, the five had a 24 per cent decline in net income in 2022, nearly $3bn, due to funding one-offs in 2021 – generally Covid emergency support from the Commonwealth and income from the wind-up of the university system owned international education company, Education Australia.

As a result all ran deficits, except Uni Sydney.

As to assets, Uni Sydney was strongest in ’22, with a 6 per cent increase in net assets, to $6.5bn. UNSW net assets were up 3 per cent to $3.45bn. The other three took hits, Uni Melbourne was down, 0.8 per cent, Monash U 3 per cent and Uni Queensland 5 per cent. (Uni Queensland VC Deborah Terry attributes the tough ’22 in part to a $209m investment loss (Campus Morning Mail March 31) ).  

However, all five grew much asset-richer over 2018-2022. Uni Melbourne’s net assets increased from $5.720bn to $7.678bn and Uni Sydney’s from $4.709bn to $6.526bn. And the combined income of the five in 2022 was $1bn more ($12.8bn) than in 2018.

Professor Larkins’ paper comes as the University of Melbourne announces the vision for a major construction program on the Parkville campus, at undisclosed cost.



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